California slides claim third victim | AspenTimes.com

California slides claim third victim

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

LOS ANGELES ” Searchers found the body of a third avalanche victim Saturday and rescued a missing snowboarder who spent the night in the snowy San Gabriel Mountains.

The body, discovered Saturday morning, was one of two people reported missing Friday after a trio of avalanches swept out-of-bounds canyons near the Mountain High ski resort. His identity was not immediately released.

The other person, a snowboarder, was found earlier Saturday morning after spending the night on the mountain.

“He walked out” and was in good condition, Los Angeles County sheriff’s dispatcher Tracy Meritt said.

The man, who was not identified, was airlifted, examined at a hospital and sent home, sheriff’s Deputy Luis Castro said.

Castro officials were “confident that there’s no one else that’s been missing” and called off search efforts.

Meanwhile, swaths of California braced for another bout of heavy weather as the latest in a series of storms swirled toward the state.

Wintry conditions over the past week have already claimed at least two lives, when two skiers died in separate avalanches. Authorities were on full alert for mudslides and flash floods in areas denuded by last year’s wildfires.

The skiers were killed and the two others were missing after three avalanches swept backcountry slopes in the San Gabriel Mountains outside Los Angeles on Friday, authorities said.

Michael McKay, 23, of Wrightwood, was an off-duty ski patroller from the Mountain High resort. He was killed in the first of the three slides.

Rescuers pulled another man from a second avalanche late Friday.

He was declared dead at a nearby hospital a few hours later, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Cory Kennedy said. The San Bernardino County coroner’s office identified him as Darin Bodie Coffey, 31, of Wrightwood.

National Weather Service meteorologist Richard Thompson said up to 8 inches of rain would fall in the hills outside Los Angeles starting Saturday evening and area ski resorts could be pounded by as much as 3 feet of powder.

“There’s going to be very significant impacts,” Thompson said. “Debris and mudflows will be a great concern.”

Several storms have been squeezing rain onto Southern California since Monday. Some areas have received more moisture in that time than during the entire rainy season last year.

Angeles National Forest spokesman Stanton Florea said an avalanche advisory was issued for the ski area at nearby Mount Baldy, a 10,000-foot peak about 40 miles east of Los Angeles, and the lifts were closed.

Elsewhere, residents of four Orange County canyons were urged to follow a voluntary evacuation order.

County officials said the order would take effect noon Saturday for residents of Modjeska, Harding, Silverado and Williams canyons, scarred by wildfires last fall.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for Orange County between midnight Saturday through Sunday morning.

In Los Angeles, two cars were submerged almost to the door handles on a flooded street in Hancock Park on Friday and a Metrolink train on a morning commute into the city hit a slide of mud and rocks on the tracks. The stranded train was pulled free by another train and 2,000 passengers were delayed by 21/2 hours, Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell said.

Steady rain soaked much of Northern California as well.

Rain caused delays of up to two hours Friday morning at San Francisco International Airport, and officials expected such delays to continue throughout the day.

Residents in the Marin County towns of San Anselmo and Fairfax are were asked to leave their homes and businesses because of flooding from a nearby creek.


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