Skier killed in Jackson County avalanche identified

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DENVER -- One skier is dead and another was nearly so following an avalanche Saturday in the Lake Agnes area of Jackson County.

On Monday, the Jackson County Coroner identified those the skier as Joseph Philpott, 26,  of Fort Collins. Philpott's companion, Alex White, 24, was rescued after being buried for nearly three hours.

Skiers called in a report of a large, quarter-mile-wide avalanche near the top of Cameron Pass Saturday around 1 p.m., parks officials said. Passing skiers had taken pictures of the area before the avalanche and then noticed the slide area right after that, along with tracks going in but not coming out.

Extremely qualified rescue personnel -- including state and national park workers, wildlife experts and Forest Service members -- were in the area participating in a snowmobile poker run, said Kent Minor of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Service.

Rescuers found Philpott was wearing a rescue beacon, but determined he was already dead by the time he was discovered. Jackson County Search & Rescue joined the effort and after an extended search for the White. He was located, partially conscious but alive.

White was also equipped with an Avalung, a safety device that helps people trapped under snow to breathe, officials said. It is likely the reason he survived.

White was transported out of the bowls via rescue sled and airlifted to North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley. His condition was stable as of Monday morning. Crews returned to the area Sunday Philpott's body.

Colorado Avalanche Information Center investigators were also on the scene attempting to determine the cause of the avalanche. As of Monday, it has been determined that the slide was about a quarter-mile wide and moved 400 or 500 yards down the bowl.

CAIC reiterated that avalanche danger is considerable in the back country this time of year and encouraged everyone to check conditions before heading out.