Story by the Associated Press/Curated by Dave Urbanski
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Authorities say rescuers have recovered the body of a Colorado snowboarder killed when an ice tunnel collapsed on Oregon’s Mount Hood.
Collin Backowski of Pines, Colo. had been missing since the tunnel collapsed Saturday afternoon. Five of his companions, all in their 20s, survived and managed to call for help, but they were unable to dig through the thick ice and snow to reach him.
About a dozen searchers armed with chain saws and other tools resumed looking for the 25-year-old early Sunday, and reached his body at about 8:45 a.m. under about 10 feet of snow.
Hood River County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Tiffany Peterson says the searchers had to remove tons of snow and ice by hand.
“They tried digging for an hour, but the problem is the stuff is so thick that they couldn’t get through it,” Hood River Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Pete Hughes said. “We’re getting chainsaws, if that’s any indication.”
Rescuers quickly responded but halted efforts about 11 p.m. Saturday.
“Responders … probed the area and were not successful in finding him,” Hughes said.
The victim was trapped on the White River Glacier, which begins about 6,000 feet up the south side of the mountain.
“It trapped one person in the tunnel, (but) we’re not sure if he was the last one out or it just caught him,” Hughes said. “It sounds like there’s a significant amount of ice and snow that fell.”
An airplane was dispatched to survey the area, along with crews from local sheriff’s offices.
Seven rescuers, including five members of an all-volunteer group called the CragRats, were on the mountain on Saturday night.
Companions took pictures of the area just before the tunnel collapsed, Hughes said, giving searchers a better idea of where to search.
Warm temperatures made snow on the mountain slushier and more easily sloughed off the surface, adding to the challenge of attempting to reach the snowboarder.