MILLCREEK, Utah — Four skiers are dead after an avalanche in Millcreek Canyon, which is in the Salt Lake City area.
The Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake said it received a "faint" distress call around 11:40 a.m. Saturday. Despite poor cell phone reception in the area, officers were able to determine that the slide happened in the Wilson Glade area of Wilson Fork. It is also near Alexander Basin and Gobblers Knob.
UPD later confirmed that four of the skiers were dead and four others were alive. All eight had avalanche beacons.
The medical status of the survivors was not immediately available, but officials say they were able to dig themselves out. The surviving skiers were also able to locate and dig out the other four, but they had already died.
Search and rescue teams from several agencies are working to recover the bodies in a way that will not further endanger crews from getting caught in another avalanche.
“We are heartbroken over the tragic news of four fatalities as the result of an avalanche in the Millcreek Canyon area this afternoon," Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson wrote in a statement. "We deeply mourn the loss of life due to this devastating incident.”
The incident is the first deadly avalanche in Salt Lake County this winter season. There were two others last month in the Park City backcountry: a skier in the Square Top area and a snowboarder in Dutch Draw, respectively.
Gov. Spencer Cox also issued a statement, writing on Twitter:
"This is a terrible tragedy and our prayers go out to the victims and families involved. We are grateful to the first responders and others who engaged in this rescue and recovery effort. With avalanche danger high right now, please exercise extreme caution."
The Utah Avalanche Center reports that an avalanche was remotely triggered in the same general area just one day prior. Nobody was caught in it.
UPD says Millcreek Canyon is closed to recreation at least through Sunday, but restaurants and businesses in the canyon will still be open.
The victims' names have not yet been released, and the survivors' medical status is not known at this time.
This story was originally published by Jonah Napoli, Spencer Burt and Spencer Joseph at KSTU.