Idaho doctor killed in weekend avalanche - East Idaho News
Avalanche death

Idaho doctor killed in weekend avalanche

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MACKAY — A backcountry skier has died after being buried by an avalanche in Idaho, officials said.

The avalanche occurred Friday when two experienced backcountry skiers were traveling on Donaldson Peak in Idaho’s Lost River Range, the Sawtooth Avalanche Center said.

One skier triggered the slope collapse while climbing down to where the pair were going to ski. He got caught in a small avalanche, which set off a second larger avalanche.

The second skier used a satellite communication device to call for help, and then a rescue transceiver and probe pole to locate the first skier buried under about five feet of snow.

She performed CPR on the first skier after digging him out with a shovel. Search and rescue teams evacuated him, but he didn’t survive.

Fox News identifies the dead skier as Dr. Terrence “Terry” O’Connor, a nature-loving doctor from Ketchum who reportedly worked as an emergency room physician at St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center.

The Idaho EMS Physician Commission, which O’Connor was a member of, pays tribute to him in a Saturday morning Facebook post.

“Terry was an outstanding physician and played a pivotal role in the early days of the COVID pandemic really demonstrating the public health role of the EMS medical director within a community,” the Commission writes. “His loss will be missed not only in the valley itself but throughout the entire state and region. We express our condolences to his family and the Wood River Fire and EMS community.”

O’Connor and his ski partner were both experienced backcountry skiers, according to the Sawtooth Avalanche Center.

Two other men were killed in a separate avalanche near Salt Lake City Friday.

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The fatality brings this winter’s tally of avalanche deaths in the U.S. to 16, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. An average of 30 people die in avalanches each year in the U.S.

Avalanche safety specialists say their job has become more difficult in recent years. Rising numbers of skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers have also been visiting backcountry areas since the COVID-19 pandemic.