Mount Hood Snowboarder Buried AliveBy: Lindsay McCane - August 4, 2013
A snowboarder, who was traveling through an ice tunnel that collapsed on him burying him alive Saturday, has been recovered.
25-year-old Collin Backowski of Pines, Colorado and a group of five friends came across an ice tunnel that had formed when melting snow had frozen, at Mount Hood. As Backowski began snowboarding through the tunnel, the structure started collapsing trapping Backowski under a piece of ice that was 40-foot long.
Rescue efforts were called off at around 11:00 p.m. Saturday night. Rescuers had tried to dig Backowski free using hand tools, however the ice was just too hard and thick to break. “They tried digging for an hour, but the problem is the stuff is so thick that they couldn’t get through it,” Hood River Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Pete Hughes said. “We’re getting chainsaws, if that’s any indication.” Officials said that Backowski was 30 to 40 feet in front of the other when a piece of ice the size of a school bus fell on him. “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.”
The search was set to re-start this morning, with rescuers bringing in heavy machinery including chainsaws. An airplane was sent to survey the area and rescuers are using a picture taken by one of the members of Backowski’s group to determine the exact location of the tunnel. Backowski is trapped on the White River Glacier, which starts at about 6,000 feet up the south side of the mountain. “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.”
Due to to amount of snow and ice that had reportedly fallen on Backowski, officials had said that his chances of survival are slim. “This is clearly not a good-looking situation when it comes to survivability,” said Sgt. Pete Hughes. That seemed to be the case as the body of Collin Backowski was discovered today after rescuers spent hours cutting away at the ice with ice axes and chainsaws.