Reports are coming in from Montana regarding three avalanches this past weekend that have claimed the lives of two snowmobilers and a skier in each respective incident.
The first avalanche occurred on Saturday afternoon when 46-year-old Jody Ray Verhasselt was swept up while snowmobiling north of Cooke City. His two snowmobiling companions were unable to reach him quickly enough and Verhasselt died after being buried in snow for over 12 minutes.
Later that same afternoon, David Lee Gaillard (44 years old) and his wife, Kerry Corcoran Gaillard were out cross-country skiing southeast of Cooke City when an avalanche was triggered. After frantically searching, Kerry was unable to find her husband. David had been swept up in the rapid snow and unfortunately did not survive. Rescue responders found him shortly later and recovered the body.
To close out this unfortunate New Years Eve weekend, on Sunday, 20-year-old Jasen Kellogg was snowmobiling east of the always-popular Red Lion area and triggered a massive avalanche that ended his life. Despite being a highly skilled snowmobile operator, the young man was unable to avoid the oncoming snow and was pinned against a tree. Authorities determined the cause of death to be a combination of the trauma and suffocation.