Accident: Mineral Fork

Observer Name
Bruce Tremper
Observation Date
Sunday, December 12, 2004
Occurrence Date
Saturday, December 11, 2004
Occurence Time
Unknown

Region:

Location Name or Route
Mineral Fork
Elevation
9000
Aspect
Northeast
Trigger
Unknown
Avalanche Type
Hard Slab
Weak Layer
Facets
Depth
2.5'
Width
400
Vertical
800
Carried
2
Caught
2
Buried - Fully
2
Killed
2
Accident and Rescue Summary

Accident Summary:

Two snowshoers were reported as overdue when they failed to return from a walk up Mineral Fork on Saturday, December 11th.  Victim are Bruce Quint, 59, and Melvin Dennis, 37, both from Salt Lake City. 

Rescue Summary:

Saturday night, two skiers from Salt Lake Country Search and Rescue followed snowshoe tracks to the base of a large headwall at the upper end of Mineral Fork where the tracks disappear under fresh avalanche debris and did not appear again on the other side.  The two snowshoers were the first people to travel up Mineral Fork after the large storm, which ended two days earlier.  Searchers could find no beacon signals in the debris, nor visual clues.  Neither of the victims wore beacons.  In consultation with several avalanche experts, including one who flew over the area in a helicopter that night, they decided that conditions were too dangerous to bring in a larger team of searchers that night.

On Sunday morning personnel from Wasatch Powderbird Guides controlled the area with explosives, which triggered widespread avalanches in remainder of the canyon as well as hang fire above the accident site.  They flew teams of rescuers to the site including Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, Wasatch Backcountry Rescue, a volunteer group of ski area personnel operating under the Salt Lake County Sheriff.  The helicopter was from Utah Highway Patrol.  They searched the area using trained avalanche rescue dogs and probed areas where the dogs indicated interest.  At 11:30, they found Melvin Dennis buried about four feet deep and more-or-less in line with the tracks which entered the debris.  They found the second victim Bruce Quint, on Monday, December 13, 2004 around 10:00 am about 25 yards uphill from the first victim and buried over eight feet deep.  Both victims appeared to have been simply pushed over by the debris and buried without being tumbled and were probably buried fairly near their initial positions.

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