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Snowmobiler killed in central Idaho avalanche identified

The 30-year-old was riding with members of his family when the avalanche broke loose on a south-facing slope in the Smiley Creek drainage.
Credit: Blaine County Sheriff's Office
Smiley Creek drainage avalanche kills snowmobiler.

KETCHUM, Idaho — The Blaine County Sheriff's Office has released the identity of a man who was killed in an avalanche while riding a snowmobile north of Ketchum.

The avalanche happened Friday in the upper Smiley Creek drainage, in the area of the Vienna Mine.

The man who died was 30-year-old Andrew M. Jessop of Corvallis, Montana. 

According to the sheriff's office, Jessop was snowmobiling with his family when he was caught in the avalanche. His body was found by other members of his group, who transported him to Smiley Creek Lodge before first responders arrived.

The Sawtooth Avalanche Center says the slide happened at about 9,000 feet of elevation on a south-facing slope. The upper portion of the slope was wind-loaded, the group says.

The avalanche was about 500 feet wide, three to four feet thick, and ran over 1,000 feet, the avalanche center says.

Jessop was the highest-up on the mountainside at the time, and triggered the avalanche, officials said. He was hit by the moving snow and carried into the trees near the end of the avalanche's path. 

Authorities say Jessop was able to deploy an avalanche airbag and was not buried by the avalanche, but suffered severe injuries. 

Other people in his group tried to revive the 30-year-old, but were unsuccessful. He died at the scene.

The avalanche danger in the area was rated as considerable at the time. 

The black-and-yellow Ski-Doo 850 Summit X snowmobile Jessop had been riding was buried in the snow, and has not been found.

"The Forest Service is coordinating with the family to recover the snow machine at a later date," sheriff's officials wrote. "The Blaine County Sheriff's Office extends our heartfelt condolences to the victim's friends and family."


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