Avalanche Victim Search Ends

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Authorities ended a large-scale search for victims of last week's massive avalanche Monday and said there is a good chance a body found over the weekend was the lone victim.

"Right now, we believe that we have taken the one sole victim out of there," Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds said at a news conference.

Trained dogs had helped searchers find the body Sunday beneath tons of snow. The presence of multiple sets of sweat shirts and gloves nearby had suggested possibly four additional victims.

The body of Shane Maixner, 27, of Sandpoint, Idaho, was found under 4 feet of snow, Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds said. More than 150 rescue workers and 20 dogs were involved in the search.

Several eyewitnesses claimed they saw multiple people being buried by 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 9-1-1 dispatcher he saw him caught by the cascading mass of Searchers are still probing the snow with long poles as they try to find additional victims.

Details are emerging as to whether four other possible victims are alive. They're hoping to bring in special radar that can detect objects such as belt buckles.

Trained dogs had helped searchers find the body of one of the five skiers feared buried beneath the tons of snow. Multiple sets of sweat shirts and gloves also were found Sunday, suggesting more victims are nearby.

"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."

More than 150 rescue workers and 20 dogs were involved in Sunday's search.

Several eyewitnesses claimed they saw multiple people being buried by 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.

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.

Including Maixner, seven people have been killed in Utah avalanches so far this winter — more than any other year since the state started keeping records in 1951.

In northern Idaho, two snowboarders from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., were killed in an avalanche Sunday while snowboarding south of Mullan, the Shoshone County sheriff's office said. A third snowboarder, 22-year-old Sean Forbes, survived and walked to a nearby house to call for help, deputies said.

The dead were identified as Brian Brett, 23, of Bellingham, Wash., and Pete Tripp, 23, of Bend, Ore.

The snow slide in Utah happened in an out-of-bounds area near The Canyons resort that had been marked with skull and crossbones warning signs because of the avalanche danger.

Two weeks of wet, heavy snow created an extreme risk of avalanches in the Wasatch range, especially in the backcountry.

Shane Maixner graduated in December from University of Montana with a pre-med degree. He had just moved to Idaho to live with his sister and was looking for a job in Utah as a physician assistant, his father said.

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