Skiers killed in Oregon avalanche identified

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Two skiers from Washington State who were killed in an avalanche in eastern Oregon have been identified.

Bellingham man Jake Merrill, 23, and 30-year-old Seattle man Shane Coulter, did not survive an avalanche in the Wallowa Mountains near Cornucopia Tuesday.

The skiers were in a group of eight on a multi-day backcountry trip. They had been in the mountains since Sunday.

Two injured skiers, 40-year-old Bruno Bachinger of Snohomish, and 60-year-old Susan Polizzi of Wenatchee, were carried by rescuers on foot to snowmobiles and placed in rescue sleds.  They were transported by snowmobile to waiting ambulances and then flown by both National Guard and Life Flight helicopters to St. Mary’s Trauma unit in Walla Walla.

The uninjured who were evacuated Tuesday night are 32-year-old Raymon Pinney, 36-year-old Allan Ponio, and 36-year-old Quinton Dowling.  All are from Seattle.

Chris Edwards-Hill from Enterprise, Ore. was also not hurt during the avalanche.  He and three other guides from Wallowa Alpine Huts helped with the rescue of the victims. 

The recovery efforts of the victims’ bodies will be delayed until conditions are safe.