Detailed Accident Report
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Chugach Mtns.; South of Eureka, AK
Summary: 2 snowmobilers caught, 1 buried, and killed.
Followup: Body was recovered a few days after the accident. Same weekend and the Turnagain Pass and Cantwell accident. The pair of snowmobilers had been high marking in the area for about an hour.
Monday, April 5, 1999
Loved ones find snowmobiler
After troopers end hunt, man turns up in
4 feet of snow
By ELIZABETH MANNING
Daily News reporter
Early Sunday morning, as many families were sending
children off with baskets to hunt for Easter eggs, friends
and relatives of a Wasilla snowmachiner were
organizing a different kind of search.
After four hours of probing the snow with 10- and
15-foot poles, they found what they were looking for.
Odman Schmalzried, 40, who died in an avalanche the
day before, was buried beneath four feet of snow.
They found him near the toe of the slide not far from his
snowmachine, according to friends of the family.
Alaska State Troopers had called off their search for
Schmalzried late Saturday because they feared bad
weather would make searching on Sunday difficult and
dangerous. Troopers also said they don't have the
resources to carry on an extended search in the remote
valley south of Eureka Lodge.
But family members couldn't stay home knowing
Schmalzried was out there. So they organized a search
party that met early Sunday at the lodge, a popular
snowmachine outpost at Mile 120 of the Glenn
Highway. After gathering gear and fixing a broken
snowmachine, searchers started a slow and somber
procession to the area of the slide.
Around 4 p.m., they found Schmalzried's body in an
area that searchers had probed the night before.
"It was bittersweet to find him," said Roger Sanders, a
friend of Schmalzried who spent all Sunday searching.
"I think everyone is still waiting for a miracle. We were
all Odman's friend, and he would have done the same
Schmalzried was born in Alaska, graduated from
Service High School and lived in Wasilla. The
construction worker had two children - a 7-year-old girl
and a 15-year-old boy - and had remarried last summer.
"He loved snowmachines and to have fun," said a
relative, Brian Donoho. "He was just a really good
Donoho, Sanders and other family members expressed
frustration Sunday that troopers weren't there to help.
"They called this thing way too early," Donoho said.
"We didn't want to wait until spring. He was in four feet
of snow when we found him."
Troopers cited a number of reasons for calling off the
search. Forecasters had predicted bad weather, for one.
They also thought Schmalzried might be buried in as
much as 30 feet of snow.
"I think they were under the impression that the body
was buried a lot deeper than it was," trooper spokesman
Tim DeSpain said.