According to a Teton County Sherriff Press Release, no criminal charges will be filed in relation to the Teton Pass Avalanche that occurred on Thursday, December 15th, 2016. Investigators were initially suspecting that skiers were the cause of the avalanche, but due to insufficient evidence, they were not able to charge anyone for the incident.
“It was determined that insufficient evidence exists to prove the cause of the avalanche,” Teton County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Todd Stanyon said in a press release.
Only five of the eight backcountry skiers in the area at the time of the slide were identified and interviewed. The skiers aided in the rescue process, made sure no one was caught in it, and even helped clear debris. It was proven that all of the identified skiers followed proper backcountry protocol. The avalanche buried one car and closed HWY 22 to thousands of commuters.
“When I got to the bottom I saw the debris and the people and the vehicles and the slide,” skier Jeff Bjornsen said. “I tried to help best I could.”
To keep travelers safe, Wyoming officials are exploring a lot of methods to reduce avalanches including Snow Sheds and Drones. A snow shed is a type of rigid snow-supporting structure for avalanche control where snow removal becomes almost impossible. It is estimated that it would cost $20 million to place snow sheds underneath Glory and Lower Twin Slides, which is not feasible for the state. As these avalanches continue to occur, it is time to make a change and save the lives of innocent people.
“Why wouldn’t we as a community take a good long look at snow sheds? As far as safety goes they’re pretty darn effective,” stated Teton Pass Ambassador Jay Pistono.