Mountain of Responsibility

Few people have forgotten the skier- and snowboarder-triggered avalanches on Teton Pass that stranded hundreds of commuters and forced lengthy highway closures. Most recently, one in 2016 off Twin Slides swept and buried 29-year-old motorist Horacio…

by | Feb 19, 2019 | Avalanches, News, Recreation

Few people have forgotten the skier- and snowboarder-triggered avalanches on Teton Pass that stranded hundreds of commuters and forced lengthy highway closures. Most recently, one in 2016 off Twin Slides swept and buried 29-year-old motorist Horacio Garcia and his vehicle. Two years later, another happened in the same exact place, this time burying motorist Brian Siegfried and his vehicle. Siegfried, miraculously, did not suffer any injuries. And once WYDOT dug his truck out, he was surprised that it too was unscathed. Garcia, on the other hand, still complains of back pain. His vehicle, meanwhile, was totaled.

There was little question who was responsible for the avalanche that buried Siegfried’s vehicle. The snowboarders who set it off immediately yelled down to Siegfried to see if he was all right. Garcia’s incident is another story. Several witnesses testified about who triggered that avalanche, but the responsible skier did not come forward and Teton County law enforcement concluded they didn’t have enough evidence to pin the avalanche on one person.

That was problematic for Garcia. His insurance company rejected his auto claim pointing to the weather as a potential cause.

These events helped inspire the formation of Teton Backcountry Alliance. Their message: if another incident of such magnitude occurs, WYDOT could ban recreational access to Teton Pass. Teton Backcountry Alliance is holding an event Wednesday at the Wildwood Room in Victor, Idaho. Find more information here.

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About Robyn Vincent

Robyn launched KHOL's news department. She has worked as a reporter and editor in Wyoming for the last decade and her work has aired on NPR stations throughout the West. When she's not sweating deadlines, Robyn sustains her nomadic heart by traveling the world with her notebook and camera in hand. Follow @TheNomadicHeart

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