Two friends of a man who died in a New Year's Eve avalanche likely triggered the deadly slide by accident when they tried to help him.

That's according to a preliminary report by the Utah Avalanche Center on the slide near the western Uinta's Co-op Creek that killed Dale Christensen.

"Details are still being sifted through, but what we know is this — at approximately 3:00, three experienced snowmobilers were riding in the area when one rider, Dale Christensen, started approaching the lower section of the slope and his sled quit running," the report said. "Two of his friends rode up to help and most likely triggered the avalanche."

The report said the two friends were partially buried in the slide. Christensen, 40, was buried about 3 feet deep in an area where debris piled up quickly.

"No one was wearing avalanche beacons, but several probes and shovels were among the group. An organized outside rescue found the buried rider about an hour later," the report said.

Crews tried to revive Christensen using CPR. He was flown by medical helicopter to a Provo-area hospital where he was pronounced dead. His was the third avalanche-related death this winter. On Christmas Day, a 53-year-old Oakley snowmobiler died near Windy Peak. On Dec. 23, a Colorado man was killed at The Canyons ski resort near Park City. That same slide nearly killed a boy.

The Utah Avalanche Center categorized avalanche danger in the Logan area and the western Uinta mountains as high on Sunday. The mountains around Ogden, Salt Lake City, Provo, Manti and Moab were all listed as considerably dangerous.

Backcountry enthusiasts are urged to check for updated avalanche conditions on the Web site

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