Snowmobiler killed in Sanpete County snow slide

Published: Saturday, March 2 2013 4:05 p.m. MST

LONG VALLEY — Authorities in Central Utah reported that a snowmobiler was killed after being caught in an avalanche in Sanpete County.

The victim, James Paul Childs, was snowmobiling in the Long Valley area Friday afternoon with a group of friends when hit was hit and buried by an avalanche. The group did not see the slide occur. He was buried for approximately five hours before being found by search and rescue.

Crews accessed the scene by snowmobile and snowcat. An AirMed helicopter also landed at the scene. The avalanche, which occurred 4 p.m. on Friday, was estimated at 150 yards wide and 100 yards long, with snow more than 10 feet deep in the area where the victim was located.

According to the family, Childs was an avid snowmobiler and was an experienced rider. The group said he was attempting to “climb the hill one more time.” After a few minutes, they said they could not hear or see him, said Sevier County Sheriff Nathan Curtis. “This is when they noticed there was a fresh avalanche in the area.”

They started to look for him immediately, he said.

Childs and his snowmobile were discovered just after 9 p.m. buried in approximately 5 to 10 feet of snow. He was declared dead at the scene.

The Utah Medical Examiners Office will investigate the cause of death. Authorities said he was wearing a helmet and did not appear to have any obvious trauma sustained in the avalanche. However. He was not equiped with an avalanche beacon, Curtis said.

E-mail: jlee@deseretnews.com, Twitter: JasenLee1

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