JACKSON HOLE, WYO – A snowmobiler visiting Jackson Hole was caught and killed Monday in an avalanche he triggered while riding with friends in the Breccia Cliffs vicinity on Togwotee Pass.
Dale Laedtke, 27, of Wisconsin was identified as the snowmobiler who witnesses say was riding downhill on a steep avalanche-prone slope when he triggered a very large slab avalanche.
Initial investigation has indicated that the group of snowmobilers had previously completed several runs in the same area where the avalanche occurred. According to witnesses, Laedtke left the group on the opposite slope of the avalanche and was attempting to high mark the previous runs in the area. During this attempt, Laedtke got above the high marks and turned across the slope for a short distance, triggering the avalanche.
Laedtke was wearing an avalanche airbag pack and did deploy it successfully almost immediately as he turned his snowmobile downhill and accelerated. Witnesses indicated that approximately halfway down the hill, Laedtke was thrown from the sled. He was then overtaken by the large slide.
The remaining members of Laedtke’s party were able to locate the victim within approximately five minutes using beacons and probes. Laedtke was buried in about three feet of snow and was unresponsive with apparent minor trauma to his face.
Another member of the party called 911 and activated their personal locator beacon to assist in the confirmation of their exact location. Others continued life-saving measures until the arrival of first responders.
It was determined Laedtke was wearing appropriate safety gear for snowmobiling including an avalanche airbag pack, beacon, helmet and goggles. The official cause of death is still under investigation by the Teton County Coroner’s Office.
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