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Video: moment snowboarder is rescued after being buried by an avalanche at California ski resort

The avalanche that hit Friday at the Squaw Valley Ski Resort caught five people – one day after a snowboarder died there during a blizzard as a winter storm rolled through California

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 March, 2018, 11:38am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 March, 2018, 11:42am

Dramatic video taken by a snowboarder shows the aftermath of an avalanche in Northern California, with people furiously digging out a man buried alive under snow.

One of the videos begins with a woman lying on the encased man, Evan Huck. She carefully clears snow from his face as others work to free his body using their hands and shovels.

“Just keep digging around him,” someone says.

“He’s breathing.”

Another man says: “Whoever spotted that snowboard sticking out, good job.”

Heather Turning, a Roseville, California resident, who was snowboarding at Squaw Valley Ski Resort when the avalanche hit on Friday, helped dig Huck out and said that the whole time he kept asking if his wife was OK.

As she helped Huck, Turning’s boyfriend, Michael Parker, shot video of the rescue effort. In a second video, Huck’s wife can be heard pleading, “Please, please, please,” praying for her husband to live.

Parker said when he first saw Huck trapped in the snow he thought the worst.

“His lips were blue,” Parker said.

“For a second I thought, ‘Oh gosh, I think he’s gone, but as soon as I got closer I was like, ‘No, he’s good, he’s good.”

Huck’s wife, Kahlynn Huck, had been buried nearly up to her neck but was able to eventually free herself while the others helped her husband.

Kahlynn Huck said in an Instagram post that she and her husband had been snowboarding when the avalanche “slammed into our backs and tossed us down mountain.”

“It was six minutes until Evan was uncovered and he had passed out from lack of oxygen soon after burial,” she wrote.

“He came to on his own again once the rescuer was touching his cheeks.”

Today, we are grateful. Yesterday, Evan and I were 2 of the 5 buried in Squaw’s in bounds avalanche off KT22 between Deadman’s and Stawberry Fields. The first run of the day. 5 feet of unstable powder triggered a slide above us and without warning slammed into our backs and tossed us down mountain. I came to a stop partially buried with head and arms above snow so I was able to wriggle my feet out of my boots which were left attached to my buried board - Evan had been snowboarding 30 ft behind me last I saw. Now, he was full burial with a tip of snowboard above surface, which a snowboarder spotted and ultimately led to him being alive today. It was 6 minutes until Evan was uncovered and he had passed out from lack of oxygen shortly after burial. He came-to on his own again once the rescuer was touching his cheeks. The videos you see others on scene took and emailed us are hard to watch - you can hear me out of view yards away shrieking and pleading for my husband to be alive. I’m sharing because we want to bring awareness that Mother Nature is powerful and avalanches can happen, even inbounds after avi blasts and patrol tests. Every person on the mountain needs to have the right gear. Thank you to the skiers around us who were prepared with probes and shovels and came running to help. You are HEROES and we’re eternally grateful. Everyone on the mountains today, think of our story and use a little extra caution. Look out for each other! We’re all so blessed.

A post shared by K A H L Y N N (@kahlynn_) on Mar 3, 2018 at 9:07am PST

Kahlynn Huck credited the ski resort’s rescuers and all the regular skiers and snowboarders like Turning who helped her husband.

“You are heroes and we’re eternally grateful,” she said.

Parker said the videos he shot showed the best of humanity and that he’s grateful everyone is OK, especially after witnessing the avalanche.

“I saw it coming,” Parker said.

“It’s everything you ever imagined – every movie and Discovery Channel show. You couldn’t think or hear, you just hold on for dear life.”

The avalanche occurred hours after the body of a missing snowboarder was found at the same resort.

Wenyu Zhang, 42, vanished Thursday as the region was hit by a blizzard packing winds gusting to nearly 241kph over the ridge tops. It dumped 1 metre of snow in the mountains.