Man killed after being partially buried by avalanche

A 41-year-old Anchorage man driving a snowmobile in Alaska’s backcountry died after being partially buried by an avalanche, officials said Thursday.

Alaska State Troopers identified the victim of the Wednesday afternoon accident as Chad Christman.

He was part of a group of people riding snowmobiles near Blackstone Glacier, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) southeast of Anchorage, Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead with the Alaska National Guard said in an email.

It wasn’t immediately clear if each person had their own snowmobile or if people had doubled up to ride near the glacier.

The avalanche caught six of the snowmobilers. “Five were OK, but one person had to be dug out,” she wrote.

Two witnesses on snowmobiles reported to troopers that they saw Christman buried by the avalanche.

“When the avalanche stopped, Christman was only partially buried,” troopers said in a web posting. “The two men and other people in the area were able to dig Christman out. CPR was started.”

Troopers requested a medical flight from the Alaska Air National Guard, which deployed a Pave Hawk helicopter and a fixed wing aircraft from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to the avalanche site, located about 9 miles (14 kilometers) southwest of the city of Whittier.

“When they arrived at Blackstone Glacier, at 4,800-foot (1,463-meter) elevation, a landing area for the helicopter had been stamped into the snow by the snowmachine group,” Olmstead wrote. Snowmachines are what Alaskans call snowmobiles.

Christman was transported to an Anchorage hospital but didn’t survive, troopers said.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the avalanche or how big it was. A message sent to the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center wasn’t immediately returned Thursday.

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