Video: Utah flight medic recounts 'tragic,' 'difficult' scene of avalanche that killed 4 skiers

Intermountain Life Flight Chief Paramedic Rick Black helped to rescue three of the four surviving skiers after a group of eight were caught in the avalanche


By Laura French

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah flight paramedic who helped rescue several skiers after a fatal avalanche on Saturday recounted the scene as one of the most challenging and upsetting of his 20-year career. 

Intermountain Life Flight Chief Paramedic Rick Black told KSL in an interview the scene at Millcreek Canyon where four skiers were killed and four other skiers were rescued was "probably the most tragic and most difficult avalanche scene I have ever witnessed."

Black explained that the incident was considered a mass casualty incident and that every resource from the region was deployed to aid in the rescue efforts. Black and his Intermountain Life Flight crew helped carry rescuers down to the mountain, and then hoisted three of the four survivors to safety. 

The 20-year Life Flight veteran added that from his aircraft he could see two of the survivors trying to dig out their buried friends, and saw one person performing CPR on the scene. 

Black, who is a backcountry skier himself, said the incident hit close to home. 

"This is my community I'm going in to help out. These are my people. These are the individuals I like to hang out with," Black told KSL. "It hits home. It's close. It's a difficult thing to do, but we put that aside, we go in and do our job." 

The four skiers who lost their lives were identified as Louis Holian, 26, Stephanie Hopkins, 26, Thomas Louis Steinbrecher, 23 and Sarah Moughamian, 29, according to KSL. The survivors, all men between the ages of 23 and 38, did not sustain any life-threatening injuries and did not require hospitalization, officials said. The Utah Avalanche Center stated that the avalanche was "unintentionally triggered" at 9,300 feet. 

 

Rescue: #5 Avalanche Rescue/Recovery Millcreek Canyon 8 BackCountry Skiers. At approximately 11:45 on Saturday,...

Posted by Salt Lake County Sheriff's Search and Rescue on Sunday, February 7, 2021

 

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