21-Year-Old BYU Student Killed in Avalanche Saturday in Utah

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A 21-year-old female Brigham Young University (BYU) studied was buried and killed by an avalanche on Saturday, February 8th, 2014.  Avalanche danger was rated Extreme to High in Utah’s mountains on Sunday.

She was snowshoeing with friends in a steep gully near Tibble Fork Reservoir in American Fork Canyon when she was caught in a avalanche that pushed her into a creek.  The avalanche only broke 50 feet above her but she ended up face down in a creek and was buried for 40 minutes before being dug out by rescuers.

“It was not a large avalanche but the snow was so wet and heavy that it made the conditions just right for a slide like that.” – Sargent Spencer Cannon, Utah County Sheriff’s Office

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Other BYU students and snow tubers attempted to help in the rescue but were not able to rescue the buried girl.  

She had no pulse and was not breathing when she was found, but Cannon said paramedics and the hospital staff were miraculously able to get her back to a point where vital signs were detected. In spite of this, she had no other signs of life and was taken off life support Sunday afternoon. – ksl.com

The avalanche victim was not wearing an avalanche beacon nor was anyone else in the area.

There were 14 avalanches recorded in Utah on Saturday.  17 Avalanches have been recorded since Friday with 3 people having been caught in those slides.  Only this girl was killed or injured.

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Avalanche danger at Extreme and High over weekend.

Utah Avalanche Center Report:

Accident and Rescue Summary: 

According to preliminary information, a group of six young snowshoers were traveling in a narrow gully just north of Tibble Fork Reservoir in American Fork Canyon when they triggered a small avalanche.  It swept one women into the water of the creek at the bottom and buried her face down for about 40 minutes in the water.  Media report her name is Ashleigh Nicole Cox, 21.

She had no pulse when she was recovered but it was reported they may have recovered a pulse either in transport or at the hospital. Media report that she passed away today, February 9th.  Our hearts go out to the family and friends with this especially tragic accident.

American Fork Canyon has remained closed due to extreme avalanche danger and if it opens on Monday, we will have one of our forecasters visit the site and work up a more complete accident investigation.

Terrain Summary: 

It was a narrow, shallow gully with a stream at the bottom.  The avalanche descended just a short distance of about 50 feet into a creek, where the woman was buried face first in the water.  The Tibble Fork Resivoir area is a popular destination and trailhead and most of the terrain in the immediate area is fairly gentle.  But this particular, steep gully is between the reservoir and the main parking lot, just north of the road.

Weather Conditions and History: 

The largest snow storm of the winter deposited over a couple feet of new snow at higher elevations but at 6,400′ it was a mix of rain and snow as the rain-snow line was rising all day.

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