Avalanche strikes hiking party, killing 1 and burying 2 others

The avalanche struck a hiking party of five, killing one and burying two others.

ByABC News
February 26, 2018, 12:48 AM

— -- A 32-year-old man was killed and several others were injured Sunday after getting caught in an avalanche near Mirror Lake in Washington state, authorities said.

The deceased, identified as Joseph Simenstad of Issaquah, Washington, had been sledding with his wife and four friends near the city of Cle Elum "when the slope above them broke free," police said.

Simenstad, his wife, and another man were "fully buried" by the avalanche at one point, and two others were partially buried before rescuers were able dig them out, the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Department said in a Facebook post Sunday.

One of the hikers was found unconscious but was resuscitated, and two others suffered "minor injuries," the department said.

"On behalf of the Sheriff's Office, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Mr. Simenstad as they work through the loss of their loved one," said Clay Myers, an undersheriff for Kittitas County. "We would like to remind those of you who recreate in the back country to be cautious of the past and current conditions, as they can change rapidly and without warning."

The conditions on the mountain where the hikers were struck were considered "extremely hazardous," Myers said. The county's avalanche center recommended "no one go into that area due to the conditions."

"We are pulling in only those who are trained and equipped for these conditions," he said, referring to rescue crews.

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