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Body of snowmobiler caught in southern Utah avalanche found

By Carter Williams, KSL.com | Updated - Feb 8th, 2019 @ 12:23pm | Posted - Feb 8th, 2019 @ 10:37am


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CIRCLEVILLE, Piute County — Search crews on Friday found the body of a St. George man who was caught in an avalanche while riding a snowmobile Thursday evening, sheriff's officials said.

Beaver County Sheriff Cameron Noel confirmed they located the body of the 41-year-old man about 11:30 a.m. Family members identified the victim as Brad Stapley.

Noel added Stapley's father was originally from Beaver County, and the family would come up to the area often.

"It's just a tragic situation," Noel said. "It's the first (person trapped in an) avalanche I've had in the county since I've worked here for 27 years."

Officials received a report of an avalanche in the "bowl" area on Circleville Mountain near Circleville, Piute County, shortly before 5:10 p.m., Beaver County Sheriff's Sgt. Glen Woolsey said.

Woolsey said three men from Washington County were riding snowmobiles at the time, and two of the men were caught in the avalanche. One of the men was able to dig himself out.

"(The avalanche) was about a 200-yard-wide path from what I understand," Noel said. "The one man was buried up to his arm, but luckily was able to dig himself out. Unfortunately, the other man couldn't do that."

Woolsey said the trio had ridden snowmobiles in that area “numerous times” before, including earlier this year.

“They were familiar with the area and the terrain,” he said in a statement.

More than 50 officials from various agencies assisted in Friday's search. Noel said one of the missing man's friends assisted, and the crews found the snowmobile quickly Friday morning.

Search and rescue teams from Beaver, Piute and Sevier counties, as well as crews from the Utah Highway Patrol, Star9, Wasatch Backcountry Rescue and the U.S. Forest Service were involved in search efforts Friday morning.

This story will be updated as soon as more information is made available.

Contributing: Eric Morgan, KSL

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Carter Williams

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