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Washington, Granite Mountain—Snoqualmie Pass Area

Washington, Granite Mountain—Snoqualmie Pass Area—On April 7, Thomas Heaphy (16) lost his life following a long slide down a snow slope while ascending Granite Mountain. As he tried to slide on wet snow about 10 feet down to the trail, he started a small avalanche, which carried him down a steep slope and over a rock cliff. The time was approximately 2:30 P.M. His companion Bob Gilbert (17) found him partially buried in snow and in a stream bed. Gilbert dug him out and pulled him from the stream, wrapped him in their parkas and hiked to the highway for help. After sending a passerby for help Gilbert returned with another man, reaching the victim at least an hour later. They found Heaphy further down the slope from where he had been left and lying in the stream bed again but with his head out of water. He was pulled out of the stream and covered with extra clothing. Later two State Patrolmen arrived and covered him with two blankets. At 4:45 P.M., U.S.F.S. Snow Ranger R. Geri was notified by the State Patrol that a climber had a fractured leg on Granite Mountain and that a litter and assistance were needed. Geri and five Snoqualmie Pass Ski Patrolmen reached Heaphy at 5:35 P.M. They treated the victim for shock, removed wet clothes above the waist, splinted his broken left arm and right leg and prepared him for transportation. He was carried down to the waiting ambulance, reaching it at 6:40 P.M. Thomas Heaphy died on the way to the hospital.

The injuries in themselves were not serious enough to cause death. The exposure to the cold and the shock from the injuries certainly aggravated his condition.

Source: U.S.F.S. Snow Ranger R. Geri, Ski Patrolman Marlyn Maloney, and MRC Newsletter #19.

Analysis: (V. Josendal). The victim in an accident such as this requires prompt treatment for exposure and shock, but in this case adequate treatment came too late. In particular, wet clothing should have been removed sooner. Also the accident illustrated the serious weakness of a two man party in case of accident. With more members in the party someone could have stayed with the victim to give efirst aid for shock and exposure and prevent him from falling into the water a second time.