BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON — Search and rescue teams recovered the body of a Utah Department of Transportation avalanche forecaster in Big Cottonwood Canyon Thursday night.
Craig Patterson, 34, of Park City, worked as a UDOT highway avalanche forecaster. He was working Thursday in the Cardiff Fork area, but didn't return home, Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal said.
By about 7:30 p.m., Hoyal said Patterson's family members became concerned and called police.
Hoyal said search and rescue crews found Patterson's car parked near Cardiff Fork. A Life Flight helicopter then spotted his body. He was dead when rescuers reached him.
Police believe Patterson died after being caught in an avalanche.
Search and rescue teams recovered Patterson's body overnight from the Cardiff Fork area. He was brought down by a snowmobile and sled.
"The victim in this case passed away trying to save people's lives, by checking the snow pack levels, detecting the danger and passed away trying to keep people safe," Hoyal said.
UDOT issued the following statement about Patterson's death:
"The UDOT family lost one of our own Thursday when veteran avalanche forecaster Craig Patterson died in a snow slide. Craig had worked with the department since 2006 and was a veteran back country skier. He was out doing the job that he loved to do, making the canyon safer for everyone to enjoy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones as we continue to gather information about this terrible tragedy."
It's unknown how big of a slide Patterson was caught in. That information should be available Friday when crews can inspect the area in daylight.
Contributing: McKenzie Romero and Shara Park