BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON — A Utah Department of Transportation employee was killed Thursday when he was caught in an avalanche. 

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Craig Patterson, 34, of Park City, worked as a UDOT highway avalanche forecaster. He was working Thursday in the Cardiff Fork area, but didn't return home, Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal said.

Patterson's family contacted UDOT about 7:30 p.m., and crews located his car parked in the canyon. A search and rescue helicopter spotted the Patterson's body on the east face of Cardiff Fork, where he was apparently caught in an avalanche. He was dead when rescuers reached him, Hoyal said. 

Teams were working to recover Patterson's body Thursday night. He last spoke to someone about 1:30 p.m., Hoyal said.

McKenzie Romero

Twitter: McKenzieRomero