Millcreek Canyon avalanche kills four skiers, while four escape with their lives along Utah favorite skiing location. Avalanche warning was high prior to weekend incident.
The victims, which included three Salt Lake City residents, were among two separate groups of skiers caught in the avalanche in Millcreek Canyon. Four others managed to survive with no life threatening injuries.
According to the Unified Police Department, the victims were identified as: Sarah Moughamian, 29, Louis Holian, 26, Stephanie Hopkins, 26, and Thomas Louis Steinbrecher, 23.
‘All eight skiers were well prepared and had the necessary equipment for the conditions,’ the Unified Police department said in a release.
They were experienced skiers who were well known in the community, Drew Hardesty with the Utah Avalanche Center told The Salt Lake Tribune.
Watch helicopter crews rescue the surviving skiers from Saturday’s deadly avalanche in Millcreek Canyon, along with audio of first responders and dispatchers communicating in the process.
— FOX 13 News Utah (@fox13) February 7, 2021
Warnings had been issued
Holian, Hopkins and Steinbrecher all hailed from Salt Lake City, police said. Moughamian lived in Sandy.
The group of eight skiers knew each other, authorities said.
‘Sun was shining, pretty warm out, and I’m sure that’s what these people were out just enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful weather,’ Sgt. Melody Cutler of the Unified Police told 2KUTV.
Of note, the avalanche danger around Salt Lake was high on Saturday, the Utah Avalanche center said as it tweeted out a warning hours before the avalanche.
Hopkins worked as a nurse at University of Utah Health, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
‘Hopkins worked in the neuro critical care unit and was loved and respected by her colleagues. We send our condolences to her family and loved ones during this difficult time,’ the hospital said in a statement to the Tribune.
The bodies of the four victims were recovered from the mountain by authorities on Sunday.
#EXCLUSIVE: Jill & I taught her the great outdoors when she was young. The best way to describe it is: she was now our coach, and she just zoomed by & loved everything about the Wasatch Front.” 29yo Sarah Moughamian is 1 of 4 skiers lost in yesterday’s #MillcreekAvalanche @KSL5TV pic.twitter.com/NyLBl94mYA
— Garna Mejia KSL (@GarnaMejiaKSL) February 8, 2021
Deadliest Utah avalanche
The four survivors, all men who ranged from 23 to 38 years old, had dug themselves and the victims out before being rescued by helicopter, authorities said. While none of the four survivors suffered near life ending injuries, one of the four was stricken with hypothermia, police said.
FOX 13 reports that Saturday’s avalanche is tied for the deadliest in Utah’s history since the state started recording in 1958, matching the death toll of an avalanche that happened almost exactly 29 years ago in the Gold Basin of Moab in 1992.
This is the first time since 2013 an avalanche in Utah killed multiple people.
Since 1958, 124 people have been killed by avalanches in the state.
Millcreek Canyon is about 15 minutes outside Salt Lake City.