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Man dead in avalanche that caught group of snowmobilers

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A man died in an avalanche in the Salt River Range in western Wyoming on Wednesday afternoon. | Courtesy Bridger Teton Avalanche Center

ALPINE, Wyoming — A Michigan man is dead after a group of snowmobilers were caught in an avalanche Wednesday afternoon.

Star Valley Search and Rescue and other first responders were called to the Squaw Creek Drainage southeast of Alpine, Wyoming, according to a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office news release. The Bridger Teton Avalanche Center reports up to eight people were caught in the avalanche.

When first responders arrived, some members of the snowmobile group had freed themselves, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Officials say 56-year-old Greg Stanczak of Ironwood, Michigan, remained trapped under the snow. Members of the group dug the man out.

The group tried unsuccessfully to perform life-saving efforts for Stanczak, however, he died at the scene, according to the sheriff’s office.

The avalanche center says officials are investigating the incident.

Search and rescue crews were helped by Apline Fire and EMS, Lincoln County Sheriffs Deputies and the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Avalanche’s danger in the area remains considerable on Thursday. Forecasters say over the past week, there have been many avalanches reported in the forecast areas.

“Backcountry travelers could encounter these dangerous avalanche conditions today, and when traveling in avalanche-prone terrain are likely to trigger large to very large avalanches,” the avalanche center says. “Expert snowpack and terrain analysis skills are essential for safe travel in avalanche terrain, and if triggered, slides could run long distances.”

Avalanche danger across the western Rockies has been significant in recent days, and the region has seen some extreme avalanche conditions. Nationwide 27 avalanche-related deaths have happened in the 2020-2021 season, according to avalanche.org. Twenty of the deaths have happened in February, a record-setting trend.

The area of the fatal avalanche on Wednesday
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