Crown Butte avalanche victim identified; 2 other fatalities described

Billings Gazette

The victim of a fatal avalanche near Cooke City has been identified as Wyatt Oden Coiteux, 21, of La Center, Washington, according to the Reflector newspaper in Battle Ground, Washington.

The newspaper cited a press release from Coiteux’s family business as the source of the information.

The Washington state man was snowmobiling with his 17-year-old brother on the southeast slope of Crown Butte on Dec. 31 when the “very large avalanche” broke loose, according to the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center.

The slide carried Coiteux 600 vertical feet, burying him under 5 feet of snow. Although wearing an airbag, which when deployed can help keep a person closer to the top of the snow, the device had not been activated. It took an hour for rescuers to find Coiteux, who was unable to be revived. He was not wearing an avalanche beacon, used to help locate avalanche victims.

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The avalanche was 500 feet wide and was 2 to 4 feet deep where it broke loose at the crown, which was located at an elevation of about 9,800 feet.

Coiteux is the third person to be killed in an

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