Dramatic video taken by a snowboarder shows the aftermath of an avalanche in Northern California, with people furiously digging out a man buried alive under snow.
One of the videos, released to The Associated Press on Monday, begins with a woman lying on the encased man, Evan Huck. She carefully clears snow from his face as others work to free his body using their hands and shovels.
“Just keep digging around him,” someone says. “He’s breathing.”
Another man says: “Whoever spotted that snowboard sticking out, good job.”
Heather Turning, a Roseville, California resident, who was snowboarding at Squaw Valley Ski Resort when the avalanche hit on Friday, helped dig Huck out and said that the whole time he kept asking if his wife was OK.
As she helped Huck, Turning’s boyfriend, Michael Parker, shot video of the rescue effort. In a second video Parker released to The Associated Press, Huck’s wife can be heard pleading, “Please, please, please,” praying for her husband to live.
Parker said when he first saw Huck trapped in the snow he thought the worst.
“His lips were blue,” Parker said. “For a second I thought, ‘Oh gosh, I think he’s gone, but as soon as I got closer I was like, ‘No, he’s good, he’s good.”
Huck’s wife, Kahlynn Huck, had been buried nearly up to her neck but was able to eventually free herself while the others helped her husband.
Kahlynn Huck said in an Instagram post that she and her husband had been snowboarding when the avalanche “slammed into our backs and tossed us down mountain.”
“It was six minutes until Evan was uncovered and he had passed out from lack of oxygen shortly after burial,” she wrote. “He came to on his own again once the rescuer was touching his cheeks.”
Kahlynn Huck credited the ski resort’s rescuers and all the regular skiers and snowboarders like Turning who helped her husband.
“You are heroes and we’re eternally grateful,” she said.
Parker said the videos he shot showed the best of humanity and that he’s grateful everyone is OK, especially after witnessing the avalanche.
“I saw it coming,” Parker said. “It’s everything you ever imagined — every movie and Discovery Channel show. You couldn’t think or hear, you just hold on for dear life.”
He added: “We were literally one foot away from getting swept away.”
Although five people were buried by the avalanche, everyone survived and only one person had serious injuries.
Another avalanche hit Saturday at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, about 170 miles southeast of Squaw Valley, partially burying three people. There were no injuries.
Heavy storms in recent days have dumped more than 6 feet of snow in some of California’s higher elevations.