PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Authorities have released the names of a backcountry ski guide and his client who died in an Eastern Oregon avalanche.
The Baker County Sheriff's Office says 23-year-old guide Jake Merrill, from Bellingham, Wash., and 30-year-old Shane Coulter, of Seattle, died Tuesday when the avalanche struck a group of six skiers and two guides in the southern part of the Wallowa Mountains.
Two other skiers suffered broken legs: 60-year-old Susan Polizzi, of Wenatchee, Wash., and 40-year-old Bruno Bachinger, of Snohomish, Wash. They were taken to a Washington hospital after it took rescuers all day Wednesday to get to them.
Avalanche risk has been high in the West. The deaths brought to 12 the number of people who have died in avalanches nationally this season, including six in the West since Sunday.
The two injured skiers released statements thanking rescuers.
Authorities say Polizzi suffered two broken legs and a broken arm. Forty-year-old Bruno Bachinger of Snohomish, Wash., had a broken thigh bone.
The two are hospitalized in Walla Walla, Wash.
Polizzi said Thursday she survived in part because of the efforts a backcountry ski guide who "scarcely left her side" and the skills of the rescuers who brought her to safety.
Bachinger, meanwhile, released a short statement also thanking those who came to his aid.
The avalanche hit a party of six skiers and two guides. The bodies of the skier and guide who did not survive remain on the mountain.