Alaska skiers rescued after being stranded by avalanche

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 18, 2012 12:43 AM

By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE (Reuters) - Two back-country skiers who became stranded for hours by an avalanche were rescued by helicopter early Saturday morning, the Alaska Air National Guard said.

The skiers and another member of their party had been involved in the snow slide Friday evening in the Chugach Mountains south of Anchorage, officials said.

The avalanche initially buried one of the skiers, Ian Lacroix, 20, of New York, officials said. He resurfaced with a broken leg as the snow moved down the mountain, officials said. His 28-year-old brother, Nathan Lacroix of nearby Girdwood, Alaska, stayed with him as the third skier went for help, officials said.

The third skier, Conner Maloney, 23, of Girdwood, called the Alaska State Troopers by cell phone, officials said. The Alaska Air National Guard responded with a helicopter and rescue crew, officials said. "Without the joint efforts of the Alaska State Troopers and the Alaska Air National Guard the state of the two brothers could have been something more life threatening," Master Sergeant Kenneth Bellamy of the 11th Air Force Rescue Coordination Center said in a statement. Ian Lacroix was the only person hurt in the avalanche, said Megan Peters, a spokeswoman for the Alaska State Troopers. The avalanche in Turnagain Pass, a popular Chugach Mountains destination for Anchorage-area skiers and snowmobilers, occurred three days after Alaska's first fatal avalanche of the winter season.

A large slide on Tuesday near Haines, in southeastern Alaska, killed helicopter-skiing guide Robert Liberman, 35, of Telluride, Colorado, and one of his company's clients, snow boarder Nick Dodov, 26, of Truckee, California. There were five avalanche fatalities in Alaska in the winter and spring of 2010-2011, according to the Alaska Avalanche Information Center.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb)