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Missing skier found buried in Summit County avalanche, authorities say

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Posted at 3:50 PM, Feb 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-02 20:33:08-05

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah -- Summit County rescue crews located the body of a missing skier Tuesday afternoon.

Fifty-year-old Stephen Jones was found buried in about three feet of snow in the Shale Shot area of the Wasatch back mountains, Summit County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.

“It appears that an avalanche was the cause of the burial,” said Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez. “The slide area was reported to be about 60 feet wide and 500 feet long.”

Jones’ family reported him missing Sunday evening. Deputies found his car in a parking lot at the Park City Mountain Resort, and suspect he entered the backcountry there. It’s unclear when the avalanche hit, but Martinez said he was likely caught unaware.

“It’s not necessarily the width or the length of an avalanche, it’s the amount of snow that comes down,” Martinez said. “It’s heavy, and when the avalanche occurs, and it sets, it sets almost like cement.”

Martinez said Jones’ was an avid backcountry skier and very prepared. He had backcountry gear, including a beacon. It was that beacon that helped search and rescue crews find his body.

Crews searched for the skier all day Monday but called off the search that night and picked it up again Tuesday morning.

Jones’ family released a statement through the sheriff’s office early Tuesday thanking search and rescue crews for their efforts. Martinez said with the Ski Patrol and Air Med personnel there were about 30 people involved in the search.

“Our family is very impressed at the competence and abilities of the search efforts of all involved,” the family statement read.