ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A 41-year-old Anchorage man driving a snowmobile in Alaska's backcountry died after being buried by an avalanche, officials said Thursday.
Alaska State Troopers identified the victim of the Wednesday afternoon accident as Chad Christman.
He was part of a group of people riding snowmobiles near Blackstone Glacier, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) southeast of Anchorage, Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead with the Alaska National Guard said in an email.
It wasn't immediately clear if each person had their own snowmobile or if people had doubled up to ride near the glacier.
The Alaska National Guard initially said six snowmobilers were caught in the slide.
However, a preliminary accident report released late Wednesday evening by the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center said three people on snowmobiles got caught in the slide.
The report was based on interviews with survivors and photos of the scene they shared with the center staff.
According to the report, one rider was partially buried, one deployed an airbag and came to rest on the surface of the avalanche and "one rider was fully buried (except for a hand breaking the surface) and killed."
The survivors were able to start CPR, and other snowmobilers in the area responded within 15 to 30 minutes.
Troopers requested a medical flight from the Alaska Air National Guard, which deployed a Pave Hawk helicopter and a fixed wing aircraft from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to the avalanche site, located about 9 miles (14 kilometers) southwest of the city of Whittier.
"When they arrived at Blackstone Glacier, at 4,800-foot (1,463-meter) elevation, a landing area for the helicopter had been stamped into the snow by the snowmachine group," Olmstead wrote. Snowmachines are what Alaskans call snowmobiles.
Christman was transported to an Anchorage hospital but didn't survive, troopers said.
The avalanche center preliminary report indicates the snowmobilers triggered the hard slab avalanche from below.
The report describes the avalanche as medium in size, about 2-feet (0.61-meters) to 4-feet (1.22-meters) deep, up to 300 feet (91 meters) wide and about 1,000 feet (304 meters) long.
"The debris was enough to bury a car, destroy a small building or break several trees," the report said.