Three people are dead after an avalanche at Stevens Pass. In a separate incident, a snowboarder has died after triggering an avalanche at Alpental.
The Stevens Pass avalanche occurred near Milepost 60 on Tunnel Creek Canyon Road. Two people were initially reported dead, and a third victim was reported shortly thereafter. It was also first reported that eight people were missing but everyone has now been located.
Sgt. Katie Larson of the King County Sheriff's Office said there were two different groups of very experienced skiers in the back country of Stevens Pass, totalling about a dozen people.
"Several of the people were buried," said detective Chris Bedker of the King County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue. "Most of them were able to self-rescue."
The avalanche swept one of the groups, consisting of three men and one woman, 1,500 to 2,000 feet down the mountain.
The men who perished in the avalanche have been identified as John Brenan, 35, Jim Jack, 45, and Stevens Pass' marketing director Chris Rudolph, 30.
The woman in the group, Megan Michelson, was able to survive because she was using an avalanche rescue system. She released a statement late Sunday night:
"First off, my thoughts, condolences and sympathies are with the families and victims of the avalanche incident today outside of Stevens Pass Ski Resort. All the people in the party were properly equipped and experienced backcountry travelers. I was caught by the avalanche and was not completely buried. I believe my partial burial and survival was on account of the inflation of my ABS Avalanche Airbag Backpack."
Investigators agreed with her assessment.
"It kept her atop the avalanche and basically saved her life," Bedker said. "She was still trapped in the avalanche itself and required assistance getting out."
The other skiers who were caught in the avalanche came to the aid of the three men and attempted to resuscitate them but were not successful. Many of them were friends of the victims.
"It's been a really rough day up here and it's just been hard to swallow," said a friend of one of the victims. "Feel like I've been kicked in the gut or something."
Karl Milanoski has been identified as the snowboarder who died after triggering an avalanche and falling 500 feet over a cliff was recovered Sunday afternoon.
A witness called 911 about 1 p.m. Sunday to report seeing the Milanoski go over a cliff at Alpental ski area in Snoqualmie Pass.
Alpental is a back country ski area on the Summit at Snoqualmie.
Milanoski was with a group of people when the avalanche occured.