By MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News
(SALT LAKE CITY) — Four skiers are dead after an avalanche Saturday in Utah’s Salt Lake Valley, authorities said.
The avalanche occurred in a backcountry region of Millcreek Canyon. Eight skiers were in the area of Wilson Basin, which is not affiliated with any ski resorts, when they triggered the avalanche, Sgt. Melody Cutler of Millcreek’s Unified Police Department said.
All eight were caught in the avalanche. A couple of skiers were able to dig themselves and the deceased skiers out, Cutler said.
Rescue crews were notified of the avalanche at 11:40 a.m. local time. The four survivors had minor injuries and were rescued via helicopter. Rescue teams were working to bring the deceased off the mountain, Cutler said.
The ages of the skiers range from early 20s to late 30s, Cutler said.
The accident occurred amid warnings of high avalanche danger for the region.
At 7 a.m. local time Saturday, the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center issued a backcountry avalanche warning for the mountains of northern Utah. It remains in effect through 6 a.m. Sunday.
Cutler stressed that it’s important to pay attention to those warnings.
“There’s been advisories out recently about the very high avalanche danger that exists with the current conditions,” Cutler told Salt Lake City ABC affiliate KTVX. “This is a very unfortunate circumstance with these conditions.”
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox reacted to news of the deadly avalanche on Twitter.
“This is a terrible tragedy and our prayers go out to the victims and families involved,” he said. “We are grateful to the first responders and others who engaged in this rescue and recovery effort. With avalanche danger high right now, please exercise extreme caution.”
The Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Canyon Search and Rescue Unit, Unified Police Department, Unified Fire Authority and others were involved in the response, Mayor Jenny Wilson said.
“We are heartbroken over the tragic news of four fatalities as the result of an avalanche in the Millcreek Canyon area this afternoon,” Wilson tweeted. “We deeply mourn the loss of life due to this devastating incident.”
This is Utah’s third fatal avalanche this year, according to the Utah Avalanche Center.
Two people died last month in separate avalanches in the Salt Lake region.
On Jan. 30, a 57-year-old man was killed while skiing in the backcountry adjacent to the Park City Mountain Resort’s Canyons Village. Three weeks earlier, a 31-year-old snowboarder was buried after descending a slope with another skier in the backcountry of the Canyons Village area on Jan. 8.
All three avalanches were unintentionally triggered.
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