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Teams in Utah Recover 1 Body After Avalanche

Search Continues for Other Victims

By Mark Thiessen
Associated Press
Monday, January 17, 2005; Page A03

SALT LAKE CITY, Jan. 16 -- Search teams digging through tons of snow Sunday found the body of one of five people feared buried by a powerful avalanche in an area that skiers had been warned to avoid.

The victim was identified as Shane Maixner, 27, of Sandpoint, Idaho. His body was found under four feet of snow after trained dogs alerted the teams searching the area of Friday's slide, Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds said at a news conference.

Rescuers search for bodies that might be under 30 feet of snow outside Park City, Utah, after an avalanche in an area skiers were told to avoid. (Douglas C. Pizac -- AP)

"If anybody could have survived, it would have been Shane," his father, Joel Maixner, said from his North Dakota home. "He was in excellent condition. But the sheriff told me his head and chest were slammed into a tree. He died without a fight."

Seven people have been killed in Utah avalanches this winter -- more than any year since the state started keeping records in 1951. It is still relatively early in the season.

Edmunds said other clothing -- sweat shirts and gloves -- was discovered in Sunday's search, possibly indicating more victims.

Several witnesses said they saw multiple people buried in the avalanche near Park City, about 20 miles east of Salt Lake City. But Maixner was the only one who had been identified even before his body was found; a friend told a 911 dispatcher he saw him caught by the cascading mass of snow.

"We have found the individual we absolutely, categorically knew was in that debris field," Edmunds said. "Hopefully, there won't be any more."

Police have removed about 40 names from a list of potential victims. Edmunds asked any out-of-state vacationers to contact their families to let them know they are safe. "We want to clear names," he said.

There were no local people on that list.

Edmunds said authorities would not stop looking until they recover the body of anyone they suspect was caught in the avalanche. But he would call off the search "if we feel like the trail has gone cold, and we have taxed our resources."

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