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Big Four Ice Caves Recovery Update
CONTACT:  Shari Ireton, Director of Communications
Tracy M. O’Toole, Public Affairs Officer, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
VERLOT, Wash. - Sheriff’s Office 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 night.
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 lives yesterday."