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Big Four Ice Caves Recovery Update
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 7, 2015
Director of Communications
Tracy M. O’Toole, Public Affairs Officer, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National
VERLOT, Wash. -
Search and Rescue personnel and volunteers are working on plans to safely
recover the body of the 34 year-old woman who died at the Big Four Ice Caves
yesterday afternoon. The victim is at the back of the cave and, due to
extremely dangerous conditions, a safe recovery will be difficult.
Identification of the victim, as well as cause and manner of death, will be
released by the Medical Examiner after the body has been recovered.
Technical rescue personnel who have examined the cave report that
the collapse of rock and ice occurred at the back of the cave. They also report
that there were additional debris falls in the cave throughout the
It has been confirmed that there was an additional 14 year-old
female transported to Providence Regional Medical Center yesterday, bringing the
total number of surviving victims to five (two adult males, one adult
female, and two juvenile females).
The Mountain Loop Highway is open, but the area at the Ice Caves
will remain closed until further notice.
First responders, search and rescue teams, and the US Forest
Service have been actively training for a similar scenario over the past few
months. A mock operation was held at the Big Four Ice Caves on April 18, 2015
and a "tabletop" exercise was conducted on June 25, 2015.
"Our biggest problem with rescue operations in this area has
always been communication," said Search and Rescue Sgt. Danny Wikstrom. There
is no cell phone coverage area for several square miles and radio communication
between first responders can be spotty, due to the terrain. "The two most
recent training opportunities helped us streamline communications, which saved