It started off as a beautiful day on the slopes … and turned into every skier’s worst nightmare.
Visitors to Squaw Valley Ski Resort in Olympic Valley, California looking to have some winter fun thought they were in luck when a blizzard hit recently: the fresh powder provided perfect ski conditions on the slopes.
“Crowds were literally woohoo-ing constantly, you’re high-fiving every stranger you see,” snowboarder Heather Turning told CNN of the atmosphere at the resort.
— Squaw Alpine (@squawalpine) March 3, 2018
All the skiers were having a great time—until disaster struck:
They were hit by an avalanche.
“It looked like a blazing cloud of snow coming down,” Turning said. “It went pretty fast.”
And then, in the aftermath of the incident, the skiers could hear a woman screaming. It was Kahlynn Huck, who was on the slopes with her husband, Evan.
She managed to free herself from the snow—but now couldn’t find Evan anywhere. She called out to him, terrified.
“I was inconsolable wondering if my husband was gone,” she told KGO.
An immediate search began for the missing man, presumed trapped under the snow.
“You can suffocate under one foot of snow if you’re not found,” Turning told Inside Edition.
With a thick layer of snow covering everything, it would be hard to find him—but one sharp-eyed visitor saw something sticking out of the snow that marked the spot:
“Someone saw his board peaking out of the snow just a little bit,” Turning said.
The people on the slopes rushed over to the scene, and with shovels and their own hands, began frantically digging the unconscious snowboarder out.
“He was very quiet, his lips were blue,” Turning said.
Working together, this group of strangers was able to free Evan.
They saved his life—when trapped under the snow, Evan nearly suffocated.
“I was conscious for about 45 seconds while I was under the snow then I ran out of oxygen and passed out,” he told KGO.
He was unable to avoid the oncoming avalanche. “I heard someone yell, and I looked back and saw an eight-foot wall of snow, a second later it hit us.”
But soon after he was freed from the snow, Evan regained consciousness.
“He opened his eyes and looked right at me and said, ‘where’s my wife,'” said Joe Breault, one of the rescuers.
Evan was reunited with his wife, and remarkably, neither of them had any injuries.
He did have plenty of thanks for the strangers who came to his rescue:
“I was so impressed by their preparation and training I want to thank them for being heroes and saving my life,” he said.
It seemed like a scary, near-death experience—but according to KGO, this couple has no plans on letting it slow them down.
The Hucks plan to continue their 3-week snowboarding trip.