LIBBY - Authorities have released the name of the man who died Saturday afternoon after being caught up in an avalanche in the West Cabinet Mountains while snowmobiling.
Lincoln County Sheriff Roby Bowe says that Bryan William Harlow, age 49, of Libby died in the slide which happened about 17 miles southwest of Troy, near the Montana/Idaho border.
Bowe says 911 dispatchers were told of the incident just after 2 p.m. when a 911 cell phone call was transferred from Bonner County Idaho.
The caller told authorities that he was one of four men who were snowmobiling about two miles north of Spar Peak when the riders were caught in avalanche.
The man told authorities that two of the four snowmobilers in the party had been caught in a backcountry avalanche, and that one of the men had been recovered and were okay. The other victim was recovered but was not breathing, and the other two men were performing CPR.
Bowe says the caller said that he had to ride his snowmobile about two miles from the avalanche site to get cell phone reception. The cell phone signal was then used to help in pinpointing the location of the incident.
David Thompson Search and Rescue was called out to respond as was the ALERT helicopter out of Kalispell. The Air-One helicopter from Two Bear Air out of Kalispell also was also called in to help.
Sheriff's Office Detective Scofield responded along with Kootenai National Forest Avalanche Specialist Jon Jeresek of Libby, representing the Flathead Avalanche Center and USFS law enforcement officers also responded.
All of the responders met at a staging and parking area well away from the remote avalanche site, according to Bowe. The ALERT helicopter arrived at the actual avalanche site first and reported that there was no location to land near the area. The Air-One rescue helicopter arrived next, at about 4 p.m. and was able to conduct a vertical lift extraction of the victim.
Harlow was pronounced dead and was flown to the staging area. Bowe says the Air-One rescue helicopter then stayed on scene to help the investigators. The three other avalanche victims then rode their machines out of the avalanche area to the staging area and did not need medical treatment.
Investigators learned that the snowmobilers had stopped in a low-lying area within trees and were not moving at the time that the avalanche occurred. The men attempted to move clear of the slide, but two men were caught in the avalanche: Todd Byington, age 47 of Libby, and Harlow.
The two who weren't caught in the avalanche were able to hear Byington yelling and found him buried with only his face exposed, and dug him out. They all then used Byington's avalanche beacon to find Harlow's avalanche beacon signal.
Bowe says they dug down and found Harlow buried under about 4' to 6' of compacted snow, but Harlow was not breathing.
An on-site investigation will not be possible because of the high avalanche hazard in the area.