5 snowboarders killed in Colorado avalanche identified

DENVER - The five snowboarders killed in an avalanche northeast of Loveland Pass Saturday have been identified as Chris Peters, 32, from Lakewood, Joe Timlin, 32 of Gypsum, Ryan Novack, 33, of Boulder, Ian Lanphere, 36, of Crested Butte, and Rick (or Rich) Gaukel, 33, of Estes Park.

Gaukel was with the American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education, ABC News reported.

It was the deadliest avalanche accident in Colorado since 1962.

A  group of six people were snowboarding in the backcountry when they apparently triggered the slide, said Clear Creek County Sheriff Don Krueger.

A man in the group snowboarded to the side of the avalanche and was partially buried. He was able to dig out and call for help.

If it wasn't for that lone survivor,  nobody would have known about the group being trapped in the avalanche until hours later, when someone would have reported them missing when they didn't return home Saturday night, Krueger said.

The snow slide occurred just after 2 p.m. but it took four hours to recover the bodies, authorities said. The final victim recovered was buried under 12 feet of snow, ABC News reported Sunday.

There were whiteout conditions in the mountains, making the search and rescue tough, the sheriff said.

"It's snowing like hell up here, which isn't helping," Krueger told 7NEWS, our Scripps station in Denver.

Eventually searchers from Clear Creek County, the Alpine Rescue Team and the Summit Rescue Team and the Loveland and Arapahoe Basin ski resorts located the bodies.

Krueger said the avalanche was 650 feet wide, 1,100 feet long and 8 feet deep. All of the snowboarders had the right equipment, including avalanche beacons, which helps pinpoint where you are buried.

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