Avalanche Near Berthoud Pass

By: AP
By: AP

A huge avalanche knocked two cars off U.S. 40 near Berthoud Pass this morning, shortly after the morning rush to Winter Park ski resort.

State Patrolman Eric Wynn says eight people were rescued from the buried vehicles and all were taken to area hospitals.

Don Johnson of Iowa says his 28-year-old son Darren was among the injured but has been released from the hospital and is fine.

Johnson says a passenger in his son's car -- Iowa State University sophomore Peter Olsen of Nevada -- suffered a broken rib.

Details of other victims' conditions are not yet available.

Crews were probing the area for other vehicles but Wynn says they believe all of them have been found.

The avalanche was described as 200 to 300 feet-wide and 15-feet deep.

The snow came down in three distinct paths.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center says the Berthoud Pass area usually has slides only two to three feet deep because highway crews trigger them before more snow can accumulate.

Colorado has been hit by three storms in three weeks that have dropped a total of at least four feet of snow.

Michael Murphy and his friends were heading up to the backcountry and to Winter Park ski resort when their path was blocked by the
avalanche.

The 20-year-old Murphy estimates the snow came down just minutes before they got to the area.

One friend's father was about 10 minutes ahead of them and got caught on the other side of the avalanche.

Murphy -- from Boulder -- and other people used avalanche probes and shovels to search for cars that might have been trapped.

They didn't find anyone.


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