MILLCREEK CANYON, Utah, Feb. 7, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The Unified Police Department has released the names of the four backcountry skiers killed in an avalanche in Millcreek Canyon Saturday.
The deceased are Sarah Moughamian, 29, of Sandy, Louis Holian, 26, Stephanie Hopkins, 26, and Thomas Louis Steinbrecher, 23, all of Salt Lake City, said a news release from Unified Police Department.
Officials were notified of an avalanche in the Wilson Glade area of Millcreek Canyon at 11:40 a.m., the news release said. With initial reports of five skiers buried, UPD activated Salt Lake County Search and Rescue. Rescuers both hiked and were hoisted into the area to begin the search and rescue operation.
“We now know that there were two groups skiing in the area when the avalanche was triggered, a group of five skiers and a group of three skiers,” the news release said. “The avalanche swept all eight away. Four surviving members of the groups were able to dig themselves and the others out. All eight skiers were well prepared and had the necessary equipment for the conditions.”
The four survivors, all males aged 23-38, were hoisted off the mountain by Life Flight helicopters and crews, the news release said. None of them had life-threatening injuries and were not hospitalized. Due to unstable conditions, efforts to recover the four deceased skiers were resumed Sunday morning.
“Our hearts go out to loved ones of the skiers lost in Saturday’s avalanche,” said Sheriff Rosie Rivera in a prepared statement. “The Salt Lake County Search and Rescue Team is made up of highly trained volunteers that put themselves at risk to save others. They perform technical, life-saving operations, like this one, year-round.”
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson released a statement Saturday afternoon addressing the tragedy: “We are heartbroken over the tragic news of four fatalities as the result of an avalanche in the Millcreek Canyon area this afternoon,” Mayor Wilson said. “The Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Canyon Search and Rescue Unit, Unified Police Department, Unified Fire Authority, and other partners are on site responding to the situation.”
The National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, as well as the Utah Avalanche Center had issued warnings of dangerous avalanche conditions.
In the press release, UPD also thanked its partners who came together to perform the rescue; Salt Lake County Search and Rescue, Wasatch Backcountry Rescue, Unified Fire Authority, Utah Department of Public Safety, Utah State Fire Marshal, U.S. Forest Service, and Brighton, Solitude, and Alta Ski Resorts.
Gephardt Daily will update the story as more information becomes available.