Skiers at a California ski resort staged a rescue on Friday after an avalanche hit the area, with at least one man being completely buried, prompting people to start digging him out with their bare hands.
Dramatic video obtained by Reuters shows the rescue at Squaw Valley, a resort near Lake Tahoe.
Over 100 rescuers and rescue dogs responded to the scene, according to ABC 7. The Placer County Sheriff’s Department tweeted Friday that the avalanche occurred about 3 p.m.
In the video, a woman can be heard screaming, “My husband is missing, please!”
After one person saw a snowboard poking out of the snow, skiers started digging.
“We just started digging, furiously digging,” Joseph Breault told Reuters.
Heather Turping, who was at the resort snowboarding, told ABC 7 she heard someone scream “avalanche!” before seeing a “cloud of snow” coming down.
“It was massive,” she said. “It just happened to literally pass a foot in front of me.”
Turping, Breault and many others worked together to pull the man, who has not yet been named, from the snow.
As they cleared snow from his face, the man can be seen on video smiling as he is freed.
Turping said she believes the snowboard is what helped save his life by helping the searchers locate him.
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“I took my gloves off and I helped dig him out,” Turping said. “When he got uncovered, a ski patroller said, ‘You were under for six minutes.'”
According to Breault, at one point the man asked him a question.
“He opened up his eyes and looked right at me and he says, ‘Where’s my wife?'”
ABC 7 reports the man was not seriously hurt and even snowboarded back down the mountain once freed.
A total of five people were caught in the avalanche — two women and three men, with two receiving injuries.
One man was hospitalized with a serious lower-body injury, while another person was treated and released. The other three were not hurt. However, one skier told the Mercury News at least three of the five people had to be dug out from the snow.
According to the Sierra Avalanche Center, almost three feet of snow fell in 24 hours as of 7 a.m. Friday, hours before the avalanche occurred.
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The avalanche was just one part of a winter storm plaguing California for the past several days, making its way across southern California bringing heavy snow and whiteout conditions to the northern mountains.
In parts of Sierra Nevada, where the Squaw Valley resort is located, a blizzard warning was in effect. The area also saw more than a foot of snowfall on Thursday.
One man even went missing during the snowfall, but his body was found the next day by a search-and-rescue team.
— With files from the Associated Press