Utah driver shares story after avalanche sweeps him, family off road

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SALT LAKE CITY — The family swept off the road during an avalanche in Little Cottonwood Canyon was on its way to Alta Ski Resort when the snow plowed into them.

“We were bummed,” Devin Close said. “It was going to be an amazing powder day up there.”

Close was driving a Toyota Rav4 with his wife and two children in the car Sunday morning when, “out of nowhere my wife yelled something.”

Close looked up the mountainside.

“It was just a cloud and wall of snow. Just massive,” he said. “And then it hit us and everything went black and just started pushing the car.”

Close is an avid backcountry skier and said he and his family have already enjoyed several trips to the slopes this season.

He also said an avalanche is often in the back of his mind, but he never would have guessed it would happen to him while driving in his car with his family.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” he remembered thinking. “[The snow] just kept coming. Kept coming over us and just sort of waiting. Hoping it stops. 'Cause you know, you’re totally helpless at that point. Just so much power behind that.”

It was just a cloud and wall of snow. Just massive.

–Devin Close

When it was finally over, Close looked down at his phone and saw he still had service. After helping to calm his children, he called 911. As far as they could tell, their SUV was covered in snow but they didn’t know how deep. Close said he could see a trickle of light coming through the windows.

“Cracked the window and we could see trees. And that was a huge relief,” Close said as he thinks back to how fast it all happened. “The speed of this thing coming down was just crazy. It really was in a split second.”


More relief came as Close and his family escaped out of a window and discovered that everyone else around them appeared to be okay.

“Thank God there weren’t more people caught in the avalanche,” he said. “I think three seconds sooner or three seconds later we probably would have been alright.”

The skiing trip didn’t work out but the Close family is excited to head up the canyon again, as soon as they can figure out their car situation.


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Matt Rascon


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