The Salt Lake City Unified Police Department received a call to hang up at around 11:40 a.m. Saturday, and then received a report that there had been an avalanche in the Wilson Basin area that had trapped five people, according to Sgt. Melody Cutler, a police intelligence officer.
Two groups of skiers, one group of three and another of five, started skiing on the mountain at the same time, and authorities believe the avalanche was caused by group skiing, Cutler said.
“Four of those skiers managed to dig their way out,” Cutler said. “All four remaining have died.”
The ages of the skiers ranged from their early 20s to late 30. A Life Flight ambulance was called to evacuate the survivors from the area and a transfer was conducted to determine if it was safe for rescuers to pass the deceased, according to Cutler to remove tonight, Cutler said.
The location where the avalanche occurred is a “very popular backcountry ski area,” Cutler told CNN, adding that it has “been under very high-risk avalanche conditions recently.”
The Wilson Basin is located in Millcreek Canyon, about 20 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.
Utah Governor Spencer Cox responded to the death on Twitter on Saturday, calling it a “terrible tragedy”.
“We deeply mourn the loss of life as a result of this devastating incident,” said Wilson.
The four are the latest in a series of avalanche deaths in three states, bringing the death toll to nine.
In an earlier version of this story, Jenny Wilson’s title was incorrectly stated. She is the mayor of Salt Lake County.