Members from the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue responded to the Stampede Pass area Sunday afternoon, February 25, 2018 when five snowmobilers were swept in an avalanche while eating lunch at the base of the slope.
The group, friends from Western Washington, were sledding in the area of Mirror Lake near the Crystal Springs Sno Park, which is located south of I-90 and Lake Keechelus. They stopped for a break and to have lunch when the slope above them broke free.
When the slide stopped, 32-year old Joseph Simenstad of Issaquah, his 30-year old wife and a 24-year Snohomish man were fully buried. Two other friends were partially buried.
According to the Kittitas County Sheriffs Department, working with others in the area, all of the victims were dug out. The woman suffered minor injuries, but her husband sustained severe trauma and could not be revived. The 24-year man was also unconscious when found, but was revived.
Kittitas County Undersheriff Myers commented, “On behalf of the Sheriff’s Office, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Mr. Simenstad as they work through the loss of their loved one. We would like to remind those of you who recreate in the backcountry to be cautious of the past and current conditions, as they can change rapidly and without warning. Avalanche conditions are often the result of previous weather, sometimes from weeks prior. We encourage you to research and educate yourselves from the many sources available. Just Google ‘Avalanche Danger’.”