Snowmobiler's tragedy prompts family to promote avalanche awareness

Posted at 8:17 PM, Feb 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-22 22:28:34-05

It only takes a moment for a beautiful bluebird day to become a disaster that you are lucky to walk away from. 

We are talking avalanches. Earlier this week an avalanche claimed the life of an eastern Idaho man making it the 6th death this year alone from an avalanche in the United States. The wife of one of the men that died is using his death to try to save others. 

Early last month Adam Andersen wrapped up work for the day and decided to head out to the hills to snowmobile with friends, leaving his wife Summer and their three children at home. Summer said she hadn’t heard from Adam in a while which was not uncommon, but then news popped up on Facebook indicating their was an avalanche and a snowmobiler was caught in it. 

“I tried calling him and then finally one of his friends called and said it was him,” said Summer.

Adam had been buried in the avalanche and was missing. It wasn’t until the next day that rescuers could retrieve his body. Although Adam had been snowmobiling since he was young, he wasn’t carrying the proper equipment.

"We had talked about it cause he had been out a few times this year and I said you need to get the gear and he said it’s a lot of money just for a couple of rides,” said Summer.

But according to Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue it’s not just the equipment that is important.

“Get the gear, get the training, and get the forecast,” said Gregg Rettschlag, President of Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue Unit.

Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue said those three things are crucial to staying safe while on the mountain and most all of those things can be done before you even leave the house.

They recommend that each person going out should take an avalanche beacon, and avalanche shovel, and a probe with them.

“One additional piece of gear that is finding its use in the back country now is an avalanche airbag,” said Rettschlag. “It makes us much bigger so we have much less chance of being buried underneath the snow.”

Looking back, Summer said she wishes her husband would have been prepared, but she is using her husbands death to prevent others from suffering the same fate.

"We live in the most amazing place in the world but if were going to go out there we need to make sure we are taking all of the necessary precautions and being safe so that everyone is coming home and everyone can continue to enjoy it,” said Summer. 

Summer is teaming up with Action Motor Sports in Idaho Falls to hold an avalanche safety session and raffle on Saturday February 24th at 9 a.m.. All of the funds raised will go towards the purchase of avalanche safety kits that snowmobilers in Island Park can use for free while riding. For more information or to purchase a raffle ticket click here.