EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is the account of Joseph Breault, one of the skiers who helped dig out a snowboarder trapped in an avalanche at Squaw Valley.
Well we were skiing last run of the day and I was up on the ridge trail looking down on that gully, and I was waiting for my wife.
And I heard this sound, sounded like a train coming through the woods. And I turned around and all of a sudden it just blew up, snow just went probably about 100 feet in the air, all over the place, you couldn’t even see anything.
Then there was a really eerie silence for 30 seconds. And you couldn’t hear a thing.
And then all of a sudden you hear people screaming. People yelling for their wives, their kids.
My wife came down at that time, and I was like, “Oh my God, there was an avalanche here.” We’re looking down and we can see stuff just littered throughout there. Just then, people right down on the gully right directly in front of me started screaming for help. So I said I’m going down and I skied down, and I just popped my skis off and thank God this other skier was above me about 30 feet and he saw the tail of a snowboard sticking out of the snow. And he started screaming “I got somebody, there’s somebody right here. Help.”
So I ran to him and a couple of other guys joined us and we just started digging. Furiously digging. Got his core exposed, and then got his face exposed. He was unconscious at that point. He didn’t look good. He had blue lips and I was expecting the worst.
We started kind of yelling at him, seeing what was going on, digging him out as fast as we could. Ski patrol was down, he had his shovel, he was digging with us.
Just then he opened up his eyes. And he’s looking right at me, and he says “Where’s my wife?” I said “What’s your name?” and he said “Evan.” And I could hear down below me, I could hear a lady frantically screaming “Evan.” Apparently that was his wife who was apparently covered to some extent, she got herself out. And so she came running up and we got him out, and he’s telling us he was feeling fine. We couldn’t see anything that was broken.
So we brought him up and we sat him up, and his wife came up, too, obviously distraught and so happy. I just looked at him and said, “Evan this is your lucky day, today.”