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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, August 03, 2013 11:51 pm

Man buried when tunnel on Ore. mountain collapses

The Associated Press

Rescue crews on Mount Hood debated Saturday evening whether to begin the dig for a snowboarder buried under a collapsed ice tunnel or wait until daylight.

The collapse of the tunnel on Saturday afternoon trapped one snowboarder. Five others traveling with him were uninjured and called police.

Earlier reports from police incorrectly stated there were seven people in the group. They attempted to dig the man out, but were unable to break through thick snow and ice.

Hood River Sheriff's Office Sgt. Pete Hughes says an airplane was dispatched to survey the area, along with crews from local sheriff's offices.

The climber was trapped by a collapsed tunnel on the White River Glacier, which begins about 6,000 feet up the south side of the mountain.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A snowboarder traveling through an ice tunnel with six other people was buried when the tunnel collapsed and an avalanche struck while they traversed a glacier on Mount Hood on Saturday afternoon, officials said.

The six other members of his party escaped without injury. The man has not yet been identified.

Hood River Sheriff's Office Sgt. Pete Hughes said the other climbers called in the incident at about 4 p.m.

"It trapped one person in the tunnel, (but) we're not sure if he was the last one out or it just caught him," Hughes said. "It sounds like there's a significant amount of ice and snow that fell."

An airplane was dispatched to survey the area, along with crews from local sheriff's offices.

Hughes said it will "take some doing" to reach the area where the climber was buried on the White River Glacier, which begins about 6,000 feet up the south side of the mountain.

Hughes says it's unclear at what elevation the avalanche buried the climber.

Search and rescue crews were assessing whether it was safe late Saturday afternoon to get to the snowboarder's elevation and try to rescue him before dark.