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Authorities: Seeley Lake avalanche happened in 'unexpected' place

Posted at 9:31 PM, Jan 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-03 23:53:28-05

Authorities said Friday that an avalanche that killed two snowmobilers from Anaconda near Lake Dinah by Seeley was in an unexpected place.

Missoula County Sheriff's Office Captain Bill Burt said Wednesday's avalanche shook the foundation of everything he thought he knew pertaining to avalanches, and all three snowmobilers, including one who survived, were expert riders.

"It’s an area that I wouldn’t have expected to slide,” he said. “I’ve been there dozens of times over the years.”

Jade Green, 24, and Lowell Grosvold, 26 were riding with another man who was able to free himself and call for help.

One victim was found buried under four feet of snow, and was found by the survivor within minutes.

"He’s looking for two of his friends, and he only has an idea of the location of one of them, so he’s working pretty frantically through pretty difficult conditions, and even though it’s only four feet, that’s an awful lot of snow to remove. And it’s heavy snow and it’s going to take a long time for just one person to do that," said Burt.

The third rider did not have a beacon. He was buried under nine feet of snow and was found with a probe.

Burt said the families are devastated. He tells MTN News in both cases they had strong family structures.

Authorities said crews were working in high wind conditions and snowfall, and eventually lost daylight.

About a dozen search and rescue crew members from Seeley Swan and 10 from Missoula searched for the men.

Missoula County SAR Chief Joe Blattner says crews are prepared to respond in an avalanche.

“We’re always on snowmobiles and skis in the winter time and we’re taking avalanche awareness and avalanche safety courses,” said Blattner. “It’s something we keep up on because these types of calls do happen in our area.”

Captain Burt said they would simply not be able to do it without them.