Crews recover body of missing snowmobiler who was buried in Utah County avalanche

Mar 28, 2023, 8:10 AM | Updated: 9:14 pm

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — Search crews say they located and recovered the body of a 38-year-old man who was buried in an avalanche while snowmobiling in western Utah County.

Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office said the man — identified as Brett Howard Warner, 38, of Highland, Utah — was snowmobiling in the area of Lewiston Peak in Pole Canyon Monday when the slide occurred.

“They had come down and were going back up when the avalanche started, and one of them was able to turn off to his right and avoid it and the other one got caught up in it,” Cannon said.

He said the avalanche was large, breaking at the top of the mountain and falling approximately 1,000 to 1,500 feet.

Before 11 p.m. Monday, search crews found Warner’s body buried in 22 feet of snow.

“When they got down there, they discovered the snowmobile was upside down and the victim was actually partway underneath it,” Cannon said.

He said crews used probes to identify where the victim was exactly, then shoveled down several feet to reach him.

“When you’re digging down 22 feet, that’s a massive amount of snow to remove by hand, so they have the shovels and they had to create terraces as they were going down,” Cannon said.

Observers with the Utah Avalanche Center said Warner deployed an avalanche airbag, which was deflated when he was found. He also had a beacon on him.

“In a situation like this with the massive amount of snow, safety equipment is there and we always recommend having that,” Cannon said. “But when you have this amount of snow, Mother Nature doesn’t care what your safety equipment is.”

Cannon explained the snowmobilers came over from the Tooele County side and into the Lewiston Peak area on the Utah County side of the Oquirrh Mountains.

“Exactly what happened, we don’t know if he was near the top of this and rode down with it, or was further down on the mountain and got caught up in it as it came down.”

The Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter and a medical helicopter assisted in the search, as well as team members of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office’s search and rescue team.

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Crews recover body of missing snowmobiler who was buried in Utah County avalanche