Rock Springs man killed in avalanche north of Pinedale

SUBLETTE COUNTY, WYO – Authorities in Sublette County have confirmed the death of a Rock Springs man after an avalanche in Horse Creek drainage yesterday.

Sublette County Dispatch received 911 calls of a snowmobile rider that was trapped and buried in an avalanche that occurred in the Horse Creek area earlier on the morning of December 22. The reporting party stated that the rider had been buried in the avalanche for about an hour as the conditions of the avalanche prevented them from reaching the trapped rider.

Sublette County Deputies along with Sublette County EMS responded to the scene. While en-route, responders learned the trapped rider had succumbed to his injuries from being buried for such an extended period of time. TipTop Search and Rescue was then paged to assist in recovering the rider, who has been identified as Dustin Lapant of Rock Springs, Wyoming.

Photo of the actual scene. This stiff wind slab failed on faceted snow that formed earlier in the season. The total snow depth in this concave terrain feature was only 2 to 3 feet deep. (Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center)

According to a report gathered by the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center, the incident unfolded when Lapant was riding uphill in a steep terrain trap and triggered a small slab avalanche (app. 100 x 100 feet). His sled reared up and flipped backwards. He was pinned under the sled on his back with the handle bars on his chest. A partner was not able to assist. Other riders came by after an hour. They uncovered his face which was one foot under the snow, but he did not survive.

The Sublette County Sheriff’s Office wishes to extend their deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Lapant. All backcountry users should use caution as avalanche conditions can occur without notice.

TipTop Search and Rescue along with Sublette County Sheriff’s Office staging in parking lot. (Sublette County Sheriff’s Office)

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