Togwotee Pass avalanche

Teton County Search and Rescue volunteers respond to an avalanche burial on Thursday off Togwotee Pass.

A Jackson snowboarder died Thursday in an avalanche off Togwotee Pass, according to the Teton County Sheriff's Office.

Michael McKelvey, 31, was pronounced dead after he was flown to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.

Teton County Search and Rescue was paged just after 12 p.m. Thursday to the slide, which was about 1,000 feet from the turnout and across the highway from Wind River Lake.

Rescue volunteers were already on Togwotee Pass doing a snowmobile training, and were able to respond within minutes.

About 10 rescue volunteers were on scene along with U.S. Forest Service personnel and Grand Teton National Park medics, incident commander KC Bess said.

McKelvey was snowboarding with a group of four or five friends.

“They built a big jump that landed on the face of a steep ravine,” Lockhart said. “A five foot slide broke loose and buried him at the bottom.”

His friends rushed down the north facing slope and started to dig as first responders arrived. He was buried under 10 to 12 feet of snow, the sheriff's office said.

“He went from not having a pulse and he was revived with an AED,” Lockhart said.

Teton County Search and Rescue’s short haul team continued respirations on the way to a park ambulance that was waiting on Togwotee Pass, which took him to the Jackson Hole Airport. A plane rushed him to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center from there. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue said.

Avalanche forecaster for the Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center Bob Comey said the snowpack, especially in the Togwotee and Greys River areas, is unstable and will be for some time.

”The snowpack is obviously very scary,” Comey said. “Steep banks are dangerous right now. People really need to give this instability some respect and stay off steep slopes for a while.”

A Michigan man died in an avalanche Wednesday off Greys River Road. The 56-year-old was snowmobiling with his son and brothers when he was buried, first responders said.

Read more in Friday's Jackson Hole Daily and online at JHNewsAndGuide.Com.

Contact Emily Mieure at 732-7066 or

Emily Mieure covers criminal justice and emergency news. She also leads the News&Guide’s investigative efforts. She has reported for WDRB TV in Louisville, Ky., WFIE TV in Evansville, Ind., and WEIU TV in Charleston, Ill.

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