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Idaho doctor killed in weekend avalanche accident

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

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

A skier caused the slope to collapse when he descended to the spot where the two were skiing. He was caught in a small avalanche, which triggered a second, larger avalanche.

The second skier used a satellite communications device to call for help and then a rescue device and probe wand to locate the first skier, who was buried under about 1.5 meters of snow.

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

Fox News identifies the 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, of which O'Connor served, recognized him in a Facebook post Saturday morning.

“Terry was an outstanding physician and played a critical role in the early days of the COVID pandemic by highlighting 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 state and region. We extend our condolences to his family and the Wood River Fire and EMS community.”

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

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

RELATED | Bodies of two backcountry skiers buried in an avalanche in Utah have been recovered from the mountain, names released

According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, the number of avalanche deaths in the United States this winter increases to 16. On average, 30 people die in avalanches in the United States each year

Avalanche safety specialists say their work has become more difficult in recent years. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers are also visiting backcountry areas.

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Anna Harden

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