WASATCH COUNTY, UT (KSTU/Tribune/CNN) - Over the weekend, an avalanche buried a competitive skier, putting his life at risk.
Fortunately his friends were on the scene and quick to rescue him. The hair-raising incident was caught on camera.
“I’ll remember that moment when the day switched. All of the sudden I see this avalanche and I’m like, ‘Oh slide,’” said Colby Stevenson, who watched helplessly at the bottom of this slide as tons of snow carried his friend, who didn’t want to be identified, down the mountain.
“He let go of his poles, and he was swimming through the avalanche to keep his head up,” Stevenson said.
The avalanche carried the skier 200 feet through trees and rocks until it buried him completely.
“Right as the slide comes to a stop, I’m skiing over there, full panic, adrenaline through the roof, just wanting to save my friend,” Stevenson said.
His friend was trapped under the cement-like snow.
Seconds later, John Brown, who was watching from the top, made it down, knowing every second mattered.
“It was scary. I didn’t know how to think straight, really,” Brown said.
Both were looking for any sign of their friend when they spotted the tip of a ski.
“When I hit his leg for the first time, he started screaming. It was very frantic," Stevenson said. "We were just going to dig until his head was free and he could breathe.”
The skier was underneath the snow for a minute and 15 seconds.
“I remember hitting his helmet with my shovel," Brown said. "(He said,) ’That’s my head. We dug his head out, and I’m like, ‘I’m sorry I hit you in the head,’ and he’s like, 'That was the best feeling in my life is just getting hit in the head with a shovel.”
It was a fortunate ending to what could have been a deadly slide.
“I had a few minutes to think about, like, ‘Am I going to be able to save my friend or is he just going to die?’ The end of that day, we were just like, ‘Wow, life could end that quickly,’” Stevenson said.