Body of Avalanche Victim Found, Another ID’d

By Beacon Staff

BOZEMAN – An avalanche dog helped searchers find the body of a man who was buried by a weekend snow slide near Cooke City, while authorities have released the name of a man killed in an avalanche south of Ennis.

The victim of the Cooke City-area snowslide had been riding with a group of friends on Crown Butte next to Daisy Pass Saturday afternoon, when his sled got stuck at about 5:30 p.m., the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center reported.

As he worked to free his sled, it began to tumble downhill, triggering an avalanche.

“The victim’s four partners immediately conducted a very thorough beacon search but could not detect a signal,” the avalanche center’s news release said. “The search continued the following day and he was located with an avalanche dog. He was found under 3 feet of snow with his beacon accidentally turned off.”

The man’s name and hometown haven’t been released.

South of Ennis, a 50-year-old man died in a small avalanche in the Gravelly Range near Black Butte.

Madison County Sheriff Dave Schenk said Kirk Hewitt of Belgrade died in the snow slide shortly before noon Saturday.

Hewitt was with a group of 14 experienced snowmobilers that Schenk said were “just pleasure riding and not taking any chances,” Schenk said.

When the group stopped in a meadow, they noticed one person was missing.

“When they came back they could look across the ravine in an area where they saw a small avalanche had occurred,” Schenk said. “When they reached the site, they could see the snowmobile.”

Schenk said they dug Hewitt out of the snow and performed CPR for at least 20 minutes, but were unable to revive him.

Also Saturday, Joshua J. Jenkins, 21, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, died in an avalanche on Mount Jefferson in southwestern Montana. Beaverhead County Coroner Ron Briggs said Jenkins was with two companions and they were not caught in the avalanche, which happened around noon. Jenkins was buried under 8 feet of snow, officials said.

Brett Mackert, commander for Fremont County Search and Rescue, said the snowmobilers were engaged in high-marking, or riding up the side of a mountain to see how high they can go before having to turn around.