Another skier reported missing in deadly Idaho avalanche

The Silver Mountain Resort had previously said all skiers were accounted for after two were confirmed dead and five others were rescued on Tuesday.
Image: Silver Mountain avalanche
Skiers walk away from Silver Mountain after an avalanche killed at least two people and injured others in Kellogg, Idaho, on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020.Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review via AP

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By Phil Helsel

Search-and-rescue teams returned Wednesday to the site of a deadly Idaho avalanche after another skier was reported missing from the resort, officials said. The resort had said Tuesday that it believed all skiers had been accounted for.

A relative contacted Silver Mountain Resort around 7:30 a.m. to say the family had not been able to reach the skier, who the resort had confirmed was skiing during the time of the avalanche, the resort said. The avalanche, which killed at least two people, occurred in the Wardner Peak area of the resort around 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Five other people were rescued with minor injuries Tuesday.

The resort, in Kellogg in the northern part of the state, was closed for skiing Wednesday amid the search.

"An intense search is currently underway with Silver Mountain Ski Patrol as well as multiple teams and dog units from various agencies," the resort said in a statement Wednesday on Facebook.

The names of those killed have not been released.

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The sheriff’s office said Tuesday that as many as three avalanches occurred. One of the rescued skiers rescued, Bill Fuzak, told NBC affiliate KHQ of Spokane that he was buried under the first avalanche and punched his fist through the snow before another avalanche occurred.

"Just this rush of weight and snow came over, covered the hole that I had cleared for air,” Fuzak told the station. He said there was "this sick sound of everything coming to a stop."

His left arm was trapped but he could use his right to clear his face. "I'm just standing there under the snow, going, 'well, now I guess — maybe this is it,’” Fuzak told KHQ. “Because now I’m buried. I know I'm really buried."

Fuzak said he passed out at some point.

"Next thing I knew, I felt snow being brushed away from my face and I heard voices. And people were saying my name, trying to get me to respond," Fuzak said. "... When I came out of there, what was shocking was just how much snow had come down."

He also was shocked by how many people — rescue crews as well as skiers and snowboarders — had come to help. Fuzak was buried for around 50 minutes, according to KHQ.

"It was just amazing the effort that was made to save us,” Fuzak said. "That's why we’re alive, is the effort that was made," he added.

The Shoshone County Sheriff's Office said late Wednesday that the search had beeb suspended for the evening but that it would continue Thursday morning.

Officials said that based on the information they have the person being sought is the only one missing.

Silver Mountain is about 60 miles east of Spokane.

In the last decade, an average of 27 people died each winter in the United States from avalanches, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center's website.