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Snowmobiler found dead after being buried in Utah County avalanche

Posted at 7:19 PM, Mar 27, 2023

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — A man became trapped by an avalanche in a canyon west of Utah Lake Monday, and search and rescue crews recovered his body under more than 22 feet of snow following hours of searching.

The avalanche occurred in Pole Canyon near Lewiston Peak, located near the town of Cedar Fort.

The victim was identified as 38-year-old Brett Howard Warner from Highland.

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Brett Warner and his wife Stacey

According to the Utah County Sheriff's Office, Warner was snowmobiling with a family member at the time.

"Brett lived his life to the fullest filled with many adventures, he loved and served people, always willing to help," Warner's cousin Kolby Fisher wrote in response to the tragic accident.

Warner had a wife and four children.

"To say our hearts are broken this morning would be an understatement. Feels like they have shattered into a million pieces," his sister Aimee Warner Carter said in a statement. "Brett was a one of a kind. He was opinionated, stubborn and it was his way or the highway! But Brett was GOOD TO THE CORE! had a heart of gold and was always the first there to help no matter the time of day or night or how awful the task was."

Warner was buried in more than 22 feet of "very heavy" snow and was located face down underneath the snowmobile, Sgt. Spencer Cannon reported.

Expert search and rescue members said the avalanche was one of the most massive they had ever seen. It's estimated it was triggered near the top of the mountain and came down about 1,500 feet in elevation, covering a distance of more than half a mile and more than 30 feet deep.

The two men came from the Oquirrh mountainside and into the bowl area near the top of Pole Canyon and were turning back when the avalanche happened.

That's when they got caught. The man with Warner made it out after the slide and was able to call for help, prompting a search.

The two men had beacons, which transmit and receive signals to help find buried individuals in cases like this. The family member also had a probe and shovel to help find Warner.

On Tuesday, officials told FOX 13 News that Warner's body had been recovered at around 8:30 p.m. Monday and his remains were taken to the office of the state medical examiner.

In order to recover Warner's body, rescuers had to create terraces and move snow from one terrace to the other and out of the hole.

The Utah Avalanche Center said Warner was located with an avalanche transceiver and a probe but due to the depth of the snow, it took a very long time to dig him out.

UAC also reports he had deployed an avalanche airbag, a piece of safety gear designed to help keep individuals on top of an avalanche, which deflated when Warner was found.

The cause of the avalanche has yet to be determined.

Officials explain that as tragic as the outcome is, it could have been much worse as the two individuals who were trapped were part of a larger group of five men who were snowmobiling in the area.

Three of the men left the area shortly before the avalanche occurred.

Earlier Monday on the other side of the Utah Valley, another avalanche occurred near Sundance Resort, which resulted in an unusual "powdercloud" sweeping across the area. Nobody was injured.