5 people killed in avalanches last week

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CLE ELUM, Wash. — Five people, including two teenagers, died in just one week because of avalanches in the Washington Cascades.

The most recent avalanche killed two people, including a Bonney Lake. Washington, police officer, Q13 FOX reported.

It happened around 1:30 p.m. March 3 as a group of men were snowmobiling near Esmeralda Peak. Officer James Larsen and 27-year-old Zach Roundtree were both killed.

A third snowmobiler, 26-year-old Kyle Ottwell, was critically injured and taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle by helicopter. A fourth snowmobiler, 27-year-old Ryan Journey, was slightly injured and able to free himself from the snow quickly.

Larsen, from Buckley, Washington, was a 14-year veteran of the Bonney Lake Police Department. He previously worked for the Yelm Police Department.

On Feb. 25, two teenagers, ages 17 and 18, were found dead one day after they went missing while snowshoeing in the backcountry near Alpental.

The sheriff’s office said that with the help of GPS on one of the teen’s phones, searchers were able to get a longitude/latitude of where the teens were generally located.

“At one point the searchers themselves had to pull out because of another avalanche that they were concerned would occur,” the sheriff’s office said.  “When search and rescue was able to go back to the area a short time later, they found the teens, unfortunately, they were deceased due to an avalanche.”

Just a day earlier, an avalanche captured on video blocked  State Route 20/North Cascades Highway east of Newhalem in Whatcom County.

Elsewhere in Kittitas County, a 32-year-old Issaquah man died when five Western Washington snowmobilers were swept in an avalanche near Stampede Pass.

According to officials, the avalanche danger in many areas is still elevated. The Northwest Avalanche Center provides a map of current avalanche danger.

Avalanche strikes on crowded Mammoth Mountain

An avalanche struck on Mammoth Mountain Saturday morning as the popular snow resort was crowded with visitors.

Eight people were partially buried including six resort employees and two guests, Mammoth officials said. The guests were able to free themselves without injury, while the employees suffered minor injuries.

After rescue efforts, including a search by avalanche dogs, the officials said there were no people found trapped in the snow. Mammoth Mountain said on the resort’s social media outlets that no missing persons had been reported, but that the search continues.

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