Skiers killed in Oregon avalanche identified

Skiers killed in Oregon avalanche identified

Credit: EOU

Wallowa Mountains in eastern Oregon

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on February 13, 2014 at 3:19 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 13 at 4:22 PM

Oregon officials have identified the two Washington skiers killed in an avalanche that also injured two others in the Wallowa Mountains in northeastern Oregon.

Baker County Sheriff's Office said 23-year-old Jake Merrill, of Bellingham, and 30-year-old Shane Coulter, of Seattle, were killed on Tuesday's avalanche.

The two were with a group of six skiers and two guides were on a five-day, four-night back country ski trip when the avalanche came down on the third day of their travels.

Two other skiers from Washington suffered broken bones. Bruno Bachinger, 40, of Snohomish and Susan Polizzi, 60, of Wenatchee on Thursday were carried by rescuers on foot to snowmobiles and placed in rescue sleds. They were transported to snowmobiles to ambulances, then flown by National Guard and Life Flight Helicopters to a trauma unit in Walla Walla, Washington.

Three uninjured skiers were taken out by snowcat to a command post.

The bodies of the two skiers remain on the mountain; officials said recovery efforts will resume until weather conditions are safe enough.

Avalanche risk has been high in the West. The deaths brought to 12 the number of people who have died in avalanches nationally this season, including six in the West since Sunday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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