Snowmachiner recalls rescue efforts following fatal avalanche near Cooper Landing
Jackson Meyer has been snow machining his entire life.
Last weekend, he headed to Lost Lake on the Kenai Peninsula with his dad and a friend to enjoy the recent snowfall. What was meant to be a day of fun turned into both a victory and a tragedy he’ll never forget.
It was a place they never expected to be, but it turned out to be the right place at the right time.
Meyer’s friend was the first to see the avalanche.
“Just the whole face of the mountain came down,” said Meyer.
The large slide was almost 1,000 yards wide and 500 yards long. Immediately, the group went to investigate.
“And then I saw a snow machine kind of buried in the snow and it kind of shocked me,” Meyer explained. “And we get up a little higher and I see a hand sticking out of the snow.”
Bryant Evans had been caught from behind by the avalanche and carried down the slope about 200 feet. He was close enough to the surface to punch his hand through the snow and wipe the snow from his face, creating an airway
He was also able to let the others know his friend, 29-year-old Tyler Kloos, was missing. Jackson said he was shocked, but prepared for this moment.
“We’ve done a lot of training it was my first time having to do it, but we knew what to do,” Meyer said.
It was time to go work.
“Right when I got my beacon, I’m like, this is my man this is my responsibly. I’m going to get him out of here,” said Meyer.
The beacon, Meyer explained, would get him within a few feet of the trapped snowmachiner.
“Then I located him and it got more real,” said Meyer.
He started to dig.
“I was digging as hard as I could. And you can only go so long until your body starts to fail,” Meyer recalled.
Fortunately, more reinforcements showed up, including his friend who had gotten stuck in the snow on the way to the avalanche.
“As soon as he got there I handed him the shovel,” said Meyer.
They shoveled away snow for about 20 minutes, and kept shoveling. They wouldn’t quit.
“We just wanted to give him the best chance we could,” said Meyer.
They finally reached Kloos, buried under 10 feet of snow.
“One of the hardest things we did that whole time is when we first took off his helmet, seeing his face for the first time, because we had so much hope you know,” Meyer said.
He and his friend administered CPR for two hours until paramedics arrived via helicopter.
“I wanted to give him the same chance that someone that loved him would give him,” said Meyer. “We never stopped doing the compressing and giving him the breaths.”
Kloos was life-flighted to a nearby hospital, but nothing more could be done. One life lost, but one was saved.
Meyel got to see Bryant Evans back home in Soldotna three days later.
“Seeing him today kind of set it in. We saved a man’s life and even though we lost a man’s life we saved one,” said Meyer.
The grief is hard, but they’re glad they were prepared to help.
“We had the beacons just in case this scenario, in case we needed to help someone out,” Meyer said.
Jackson and his family said they always check the avalanche warnings before they head out.
They also say if you’re going to ride, you need to be prepared to save a life. You need a shovel, a beacon, and from now on, they’ll be wearing avalanche air bags.
A friend of Kloos said he was a great guy who loved to snowmachine and fish on the Kenai Peninsula.
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