Colorado man presumed dead in White River glacier avalanche

Update: The Hood River County Sheriff Office was coordinating recovery efforts of the body of Collin Backowski, 25. His body was located at app. 08:45this morning by teams from Cragrats and Portland Mountain Rescue. 12 personnel used chainsaws and other hand tools to remove 8-10 feet of snow and ice off of him. In total they moved several tons of debris by hand.

All personnel are off the glacier and no injuries to responders were reported.

From the Hood River County Sheriff's Office:

On 08/03/2013 at about 3:51pm the Hood River County Sheriff's Office received a report of a possible avalanche that occurred on Mt. Hood and that one man had been buried and was missing. Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue personnel responded to Timberline Lodge. The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office also responded and assisted. American Medical Response Reach and Treat members were the first to arrive and went to the location of the missing man. Mountain Wave Communications along with the Sheriff's Office set up a base site. The incident occurred at the 8100 foot level of Mt. Hood on the White River Glacier in Hood River County.

The first responders were able to determine that there was a group of six snowboarders who had been out looking for areas to snowboard and film. These young men ranged in age from 29 to 24. The men found an area where the glacier meets a rock talus slope and had melted a tunnel into the ice and snow. 25 year old, Collin Backowski from Pines Colorado entered the tunnel along with some of the other men. Collin got ahead of the group when the tunnel collapsed and fell onto him. Two of the other men were hit with debris from the collapse but were not injured. The other men attempted to dig into the collapse but could not do much due to the density of the snow and ice and danger of further falling debris. Responders from AMR probed the area and were not successful in finding him.

Responders from the Hood River Craig Rats and Portland Mountain Rescue arrived on the mountain and also assisted in rescue efforts. The team of men at the incident location did a safety assessment of the area and determined it was very dangerous to be at the collapse site due to risk from further falling debris. Rescuers believe that it is very unlikely that Collin Backowski survived the collapse due to the large amount of snow and ice that fell on him and the position he was in when the collapse occurred. As night fell and temperatures cooled, rescuers worked to make the scene safer by falling more of the debris. Operations for the night ended at about 11:00pm.

Operations began again at 4:00am on Sunday 08/04/2013. Personnel for search crews have been identified. The search will require a great deal of man power to remove debris. Searchers will also have to constantly assess the safety of the area while the operation is underway.

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