Avalanche on Togwotee claims life of snowboarder

JACKSON, Wyo. — Teton County Search and Rescue responded to an avalanche on Togwotee Pass today where a snowboarder was later pronounced dead.

At around noon on Thursday, February 18, 2021, the Teton County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from an individual who reported an avalanche burial on Togwotee Mountain, specifically near Two Ocean Mountain and Wind River Lake.

Photo: Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center

A male subject, who has been identified as Michael McKelvey, 31, was with a group who had been snowboarding in the area. After hitting a jump and descending onto a northeast-facing slope, the snow collapsed causing an avalanche that buried McKelvey.

Members of McKelvey’s party were quickly able to locate him within the avalanche debris via his avalanche beacon and by utilizing an avalanche probe. McKelvey however was determined to have been buried under 10 to 12 feet of snow and was unresponsive when he was recovered. Life saving measures were initially performed by members of McKelvey’s party and later by personnel from Teton County Search and Rescue and Grand Teton National Park.

After hitting a jump and descending onto a northeast-facing slope, the snow collapsed causing an avalanche that buried McKelvey. Photo: Teton County Search and Rescue

McKelvey was transported a short distance from the scene of the incident by Teton County Search and Rescue short-haul. McKelvey was then transported by ambulance to Jackson Hole Airport and flown to Idaho Falls, Idaho where he passed away.

“The Teton County Sheriff’s Office are saddened by this event and offers their condolences to McKelvey’s family and friends,” TCSO said in a press release.

This event is the second fatal avalanche in northwest Wyoming within two days. Yesterday, a 56-year-old Michigan snowmobiler was killed in an avalanche southeast of Alpine.

“This is the second avalanche fatality in Western Wyoming in as many days, and follows the recent trend of tragic avalanche accidents nationwide. With recent heavy snowfall and more on the way, a reminder to please keep it safe out there,” Teton County Search and Rescue said.

Buckrail offers its sincerest condolences to friends and family of the deceased.

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