An Alpine man has been identified as the victim of an avalanche that occurred Sunday in Prater Canyon, east of the Town of Star Valley Ranch.
David Rice, 41, was identified by the Lincoln County Coroner’s Office as the skier who was buried in the snow slide Sunday morning. According to the coroner’s office, Rice “recently resided in Alpine but is originally from Jackson.” The County Coroner stated that Rice had recently sold his music store in Jackson that he owned.
Rice and one other skier were in the backcountry of the Prater Canyon area. The avalanche occurred at 11:45 a.m. Star Valley Search & Rescue responded initially, but called for helicopter assistance from Teton County Search & Rescue. When rescuers reached Rice he was unresponsive.
According to the report from the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center, “The party skied several hundred vertical feet from the ridge without incident. After regrouping and discussing specific route strategy for the next pitch, the second skier diverted from the intended rout and triggered a 2-3′ thick and 50′ wide soft slab on a steeper terrain feature adjacent to a gully. Debris funneled into the gully and carried the victim through brush and trees. Skier 2 was buried under approximately 2 feet of snow.”
The surviving skier was able to locate Rice with a beacon search and excavated him in less than 15 minutes, according to the avalanche center’s report. Rice was found pulseless with signs of a leg injury. CPR was performed for 1 1/2 hours.
“Due to the nature of the visible leg injury and the subject’s position in the debris, it seems most likely that the skier was unconscious when the debris came to rest and may have died of trauma,” states the report.
Avalanche danger remains high in the Greys River area. A complete avalanche forecast can be found at BridgerTetonAvalancheCenter.org.