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Woman buried in deadly Palisades avalanche describes her rescue: "Calm down, don't panic"

Woman buried in Palisades avalanche escapes with no injuries
Woman buried in Palisades avalanche escapes with no injuries 03:56

OLYMPIC VALLEY - A woman who was buried under an avalanche at Palisades Tahoe on Wednesday was saved by a stranger and escaped with no injuries. 

Janet He and Joseph Lu were still processing it all Wednesday night. Janet said she was buried in the snow, unable to breathe and asked herself, "Am I going to die here?"

Her husband, Lu, was frantically looking for her when a stranger came to the rescue. 

"The avalanche happened just behind me," Lu said in a video he captured just moments after a deadly avalanche rushed through Palisade's KT-22 run. 

Janet was nowhere to be found. 

"And I don't see her. I'm yelling and yelling. When I realized what may happen, it really struck me," Lu said. "I was using my ski pole frantically punching everywhere and yelling her name."  

It was just seconds before that Janet was right behind him when she said she felt the ground slip away. 

"The snow is already moving my feet, took me away and swept me off the mountain," Janet said.   

Caught in the avalanche, she fell about 200 feet down the mountain and was buried.

RELATED: Skier jumped in and helped search efforts after witnessing deadly Palisades Tahoe avalanche

"I couldn't pull myself up because the snow was so heavy on top of me," Janet said. "I was buried, my face buried in the snow. I'm lucky I had the face mask, I had some air in the face mask."  

At that moment, she knew she could only be still. 

"I tell myself to calm down, don't panic," Janet said. "If I panic, I use more air."  

Stuck in the snow, she heard a voice from above – another skier at her rescue. 

"He says, 'No worries, I got you,'" Janet said. "I think that's the best thing I ever heard in my life."  

Janet snapped a photo with the man who saved her life, processing it all in real time. 

"I survived. I could walk. It's okay, I can walk down," Janet said. 

The couple walked down the mountain with no injuries, realizing then, and now, how lucky they are to be alive. 

"The risk is inherent," Lu said. "We all know. We just need to respect the mountain, respect the risks associated."  

The avalanche claimed the life of a man from the Point Reyes and Truckee areas. 

Another person was injured. 

This couple holding each other closer now than ever. 

"You realize time and life, how treasured it is," Lu said.   

Lu and Janet were admittedly nervous to hit the KT-22 run Wednesday morning – an expert run – but they wanted to be the first people out there as the run opened for the season. 

Still, they tell CBS13 they'll be back out there Thursday when Palisades reopens the mountain, refusing to let this scare them. 

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