‘Roof avalanches’ lead to one death, multiple injuries in Crested Butte | PostIndependent.com

‘Roof avalanches’ lead to one death, multiple injuries in Crested Butte

Heather Jarvis
Summit Daily

A property manager who was shoveling a client's property had just finished clearing a sidewalk when snow fell from a roof above him, catching him in the avalanche and burying him. The man survived and was transported to a hospital and released the following day.
Courtesy Colorado Avalanche Information Center

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – Two separate accidents in Crested Butte left one man dead and two injured after they were buried by “roof avalanches.”

According to a Colorado Avalanche Information Center preliminary report, the first accident on March 8 involved a property manager who was shoveling a client’s property. He had just finished clearing a sidewalk when snow fell from a roof above him, catching him in the avalanche and burying him. He was buried under 2 to 3 feet of snow on the shoveled sidewalk, which acted like a small terrain trap and allowed the debris to pile deeply, the report states. The Associated Press identified the man as 28-year-old Alex Theaker.

Theaker was buried for about two hours before his girlfriend went to check on him when he did not arrive for an appointment. She found the debris pile and called 911, and Crested Butte Fire Department found and excavated him. He was found unconscious and hypothermic but had a “basketball-sized” airspace near his face, created by a bent arm. The man was transported to a hospital and released the following day.

In a second incident on March 9, two men were clearing snow from the roof of a commercial building when the snow avalanched, burying both men in the slide.

The Associated Press identified the two men as 25-year-old Stephan Michael Martel and 37-year-old Blair Tulliver Burton. The CAIC report states no one witnessed the slide, but about 10 minutes later someone discovered the avalanche, called 911, and began digging. Burton was dug out and taken to a local hospital. Martel was located by probing, and was not breathing when dug out. Martel was pronounced dead after arriving to the hospital. The two were buried for 20 to 30 minutes.