Whitefish Avalanche Witnesses to be Re-Interviewed

By Beacon Staff

UPDATE Wednesday 12 p.m.
After an avalanche threat assessment by experts in the U.S. Forest Service and Nordic Ski Patrol, Flathead County Sheriff’s deputies will escort two eyewitnesses back to the scene of the avalanche, to re-interview them and try to get further information out of them according to a news release from Sheriff Mike Meehan. Those two witnesses have said they saw two additional skiers swept up in Sunday’s avalanche, but after days of searching, no missing persons have been reported, and investigations have not turned up any missing persons who might have been skiing in that area, on that day. Continued search efforts will depend on any new information gathered during today’s interviews with the witnesses, and the avalanche safety of the site.

UPDATE Wednesday 11 a.m.
With continued high winds and unstable snow, the search is on hold for two additional victims of a massive avalanche that killed two skiers Sunday near Whitefish Mountain Resort. The danger of another avalanche on Fiberglass Hill – the site of the slide – was upgraded to “high” Tuesday. And up to 14 inches of new snow has fallen in the area over the last two days.

“Unstable slab layers are likely on steep, wind-loaded slopes in all the mountainous areas in Northwest Montana,” according to glacieravalanche.org. “Both natural and human triggered avalanches are likely.”

The Flathead County Sheriff’s Department has still not received reports of any missing persons associated with the avalanche. Additionally, detectives have talked with every “motel, rental car agency, winter sports equipment rental agency, condominium rental agency, dude ranch, bed and breakfast provider and shuttle bus company in Flathead County” in an attempt to determine if anyone was missing, according to Sheriff Mike Meehan. These efforts have not resulted in any new leads. Prior to continuing the search, conditions must be deemed safe and new information about potential missing persons will be gathered, the sheriff said in a prepared statement. Those who witnessed the avalanche may be taken back to the scene so authorities can gather more information.

Related: Weather Limits Search