msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 4/25/2011 11:39:01 AM ET 2011-04-25T15:39:01

The bodies of an emergency room doctor and a U.S. Treasury Department employee who had been skiing in Grand Teton National Park have been found buried under 15 feet of snow, officials said.

Park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said rescuers found the bodies of the doctor, Gregory Seftick, 31, of Columbia Falls, Mont., and Walker Pannell Kuhl, 27, of Salt Lake City, on Sunday after a six-day search.

The Jackson Hole News and Guide newspaper reported that the men's bodies were found at about 9,000 feet in Garnet Canyon.

Skaggs said investigators believed that the two skiers were in their tents and inside their sleeping bags when they were swept up in an avalanche last weekend.

Search teams aided by a helicopter and search-and-rescue dogs on Saturday night detected signals from avalanche beacons carried by the skiers, Skaggs said in a statement.

Bodies airlifted
Rangers resumed digging in the area on Sunday morning, when the bodies were uncovered and airlifted to a mortuary in the nearby resort of Jackson, Wyoming.

The search had begun last Monday after Kuhl failed to show up for work.

The men were last seen alive on April 16, the first day of a planned two-day ski outing in a popular back-country area below Nez Perce Peak.

The Jackson Hole Daily said Seftick's family was in the valley when the bodies were recovered.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Seftick attended high school in Minnesota with a Lutheran youth pastor, Jon Francis, who died while hiking in 2006.

Francis' father, David Francis, told the paper he had been in touch with the family.

"During the search there was hope they would be found alive," he told the Tribune, "but now all hope is lost."

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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