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Ashland man killed in avalanche near Siskiyou County's Etna Summit

Photo courtesy Mt. Shasta Avalanche Center / Facebook.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office said that one skier died and another was able to escape the snow and call for help.

Posted: Feb 4, 2021 3:56 PM
Updated: Feb 5, 2021 9:23 AM

ETNA, Calif. — Two skiers from Ashland were caught in an avalanche near Etna Summit at the southwestern edge of Siskiyou County on Wednesday. The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office confirms that one of the skiers did not survive.

The Sheriff's Office said that the two friends were back-country skiing in a very remote area near Etna Summit, on federal forest land. Both were equipped for the weather and the terrain, but were swept up in an avalanche on Wednesday afternoon.

The two skiers — later identified as 37-year-old Ben Koerber and 35-year-old Brook Golling, both from Ashland — were buried under the snow. Koerber was able to dig himself out, then began digging through roughly six feet of snow to reach Golling.

Koerber was able to pull Golling from the snow and started performing life-saving measures on his unresponsive friend. Koerber tried for over an hour to revive Golling, but to no avail.

The Sheriff's Office said that Koerber hiked out to their car, driving until he was able to get a cell signal in order to call 911.

According to authorities, it was already dark when the Siskiyou County Search & Rescue team received the call. Because of the darkness and danger of working in an avalanche area, the recovery mission for Golling's body was pushed to the next day. Search teams recovered Golling's body on Thursday.

Deputy Sheriff Mike Burns, Siskiyou County SAR Coordinator, urges anyone participating in outdoor activities now to be cognizant of the danger of an avalanche.

"Our sincere condolences to friends and family," the Mt. Shasta Avalanche Center said in a Facebook post.

A memorial page has been set up for Golling to raise money for his funeral expenses and to support his family.

This is a developing story and will be updated with more details as they emerge.

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