HATCHER PASS — A man was buried and killed by an avalanche in Hatcher Pass on Saturday, Jan. 16 — the third person to die in the popular recreation area north of Palmer this winter.

Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters confirmed the death of 25-year-old Warren Carlyle on Saturday evening, several hours after rescuers tried in vain to save his life. Carlyle triggered the avalanche as he attempted to snowboard down a steep slope.

Peters said an emergency call was placed about the accident in the Summit Lake area at around 2:16 p.m. on Saturday.

Park Rangers, as well as Palmer Fire and Rescue crews arrived on scene at the Independence Mine parking lot, where the man was brought by snowmachine at around 3 p.m.

Witnesses at the scene said Carlyle was dug out from beneath about eight feet of snow. CPR was in progress as he was brought out of the mountains on an Alaska State Parks sled towed by a snowmachine. He was placed in a waiting ambulance, where CPR continued in vain.

Alaska State Parks ranger Drew McElvain said a couple nurses were among numerous Good Samaritans who were in the pass at the time of the accident. He said many people tried to help try to aid the rescue efforts, both digging Carlyle out and trying to bring him back to life.

“There were a whole bunch of people up there helping out,” McElvain said.

A LifeMed helicopter was flown into the pass in an attempt to help, but Carlyle never left the back of the ambulance and was driven slowly from the scene.

According to the Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center, the accident occurred on the slopes of Skyscraper Mountain. The center shared a photo of the slide on its website and said it started at around 4,200 feet. According to the center, Carlyle triggered the avalanche while he was snowboarding down the slope. He and a friend he was with were not wearing avalanche beacons. He was buried for about 45 minutes beneath an avalanche that left a debris field 12 feet deep and 185 feet wide.

In contrast to the lower Valley, the pass has gotten a decent amount of snow this winter, and was packed with people on Saturday. Dozens of families with children sledded and skied on the slopes near the parking lot where paramedics tried desperately to save Carlyle’s life. The sounds of joyful playing stood in sharp contrast to the anguish on the faces of the man’s friends as they learned he wouldn’t be leaving aboard the chopper.

The death adds to the grim tally in the pass this winter, which earlier this season claimed the lives of Dr. Liam Walsh of Wasilla and Anchorage’s Dashiell Erickson in separate accidents.

Walsh was skiing on his own in November when he was presumably buried and killed near the Independence Mine area. His body has not yet been recovered. Earlier this month, Erickson died after he was hit by a snow slide on the Willow side of the pass. 

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