• Two dead, others injured after avalanche near Cle Elum

    By: KIRO 7 News Staff

    Updated:

    KITTITAS COUNTY, Wash. - An avalanche north of Esmeralda Peak near Cle Elum killed two snowmobilers, and injured two others, the Kittitas County Sheriff's Office said Saturday. 

    >> Related: Avalanche danger in Northwest: What to know before getting buried

    Members of the Kittitas County Search and Rescue responded just before Noon to an an area north of Esmeralda Peak after witnesses reported two snowmobiliers missing and one seriously injured.

    >> Download the KIRO 7 Weather app to get winter weather alerts around your home 

    The area north of Esmeralda Peak is about 20 miles Northeast of Cle Elum, and above 4,600 feet in elevation. The remoteness of the location made communication increasingly difficult for responding authorities. 

    The Kittitas County Sheriff's Office says 27-year-old Zach Roundtree of Bonney Lake, Washington and 41-year-old James Larsen of Buckley, Washington were killed.

    Flags were at half-staff, and a memorial was growing, for City of Bonney Lake Police Department Officer James Larsen & U.S. Air Force veteran Zach Roundtree, on Sunday.

    Deborah Horne reports on KIRO 7 News at 5.

    >> Related: Watch an avalanche move on SR 20

    Kyle Ottwell, 26, of Bonney Lake, was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after sustaining serious injuries. His current status is not known at this time.

    Ryan Journey, 27, of Bonney Lake, suffered minor injuries. 

    Yakima County Search and Rescue, King County and Chelan County aircrews, and other snowmobiliers helped assist in the response 

    "On behalf of the Sheriff's Office, there are just no words that will answer all the questions the friends and family have about why their loved ones were taken. Only patience, time and support will lessen that pain. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and we hope that some level of peace comes soon. The avalanche danger in many areas is still high, please be aware of the risks, as this marks the fifth avalanche death in the past 7 days," Under-Sheriff Clayton Myers said in a press release. 

    Just last weekend, avalanches led to the deaths of two snowshoers and a snowmobilier in the Cascades. Click here to read more. 

    KIRO 7 will continue to update this story as more information becomes available. 

     

     

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