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Avalanches kill two in a week, danger remains

Posted at 9:54 PM, Feb 05, 2016

A human-triggered avalanche killed a man in Chaffee County on Friday. The man was riding a motorized snow bike in the Cottonwood Pass area when the slide occurred.

Snowmobilers reported hearing the slide around 12:18 p.m. and went to check it out, according to the sheriff's office.

They saw "suspicious tracks travelling into the slide" but did not find anything more in a cursory search of the slide.

As the snowmobilers left they area they saw three members of the Chaffee County Search and Rescue North Unit conducting avalanche training and told them what the witnessed.

The SAR members went to the slide area and "found a snow bike ski tip protruding out of the snow. They began digging the machine out of snow and located one male victim buried in the avalanche," according the a press release from the Sheriff's office.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene. His was identified as Ron Brabander, a 58-year-old resident of Woodland Park, Colorado.

He is the second person killed in an avalanche this week. According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) four people have died this season. Authorities have not released the man's name or said where he is from.

"We do have some dangerous conditions out there and people can get into trouble," said Ethan Greene, Director of the CAIC.

Avalanche danger remains moderate to considerable throughout the backcountry. Green said that's when they typically see the most deaths because conditions can be deceiving. He's encouraging people to check the conditions before they venture out, a map and detailed information is available on the CAIC website.

On February 2, a group of snowmobilers were caught in an avalanche near Lost Mine Creek in the southern San Juan Mountains. One person was partially buried and the other was completely buried.

"And so people that are heading into the backcountry really need to go in groups, they need to make sure that they’re traveling so that not everybody in the group would get buried in the same avalanche and they need to carry avalanche rescue equipment," said Greene.

The last two people killed did not have proper equipment. The CAIC recommends carrying a beacon, shovel and probe.