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Two snowmobilers killed in separate avalanches

Credit: Utah Avalanche Center

SAN JUAN COUNTY — Two Utah snowmobilers are dead after being buried in two separate avalanches on Friday.

Scott Pearson Jr. of Monticello was killed by an avalanche in the La Sal Mountains. Tommy Hawkins of Layton was caught in a fatal avalanche while snowmobiling in Bonneville County, Idaho. Both avalanches occurred late Friday afternoon.

Hawkins, 35, was snowmobiling with friends and family when the avalanche hit. His gear deployed, Hawkins’ sister Angela Spencer said, but he was unable to get out from under the slide. Hawkins’ companions dug him out, performed CPR and used Hawkins’ phone to call 911, but were unable to save him.

Pearson, 39, was caught in an avalanche while snowmobiling in Dark Canyon Basin. The eight-person group he was with found Pearson’s destroyed snowmobile and damaged helmet, but was unable to find him.

Volunteers and helicopter crews from the San Juan and Grand County Search and Rescue teams, Wasatch Powderbird Guides, Classic Air Medical, Utah Department of Public Safety and Wasatch Backcountry Rescue resumed the search for Pearson on Saturday morning. About 65 residents from San Juan and Grand counties assisted with the ground-level search.

(Avalanche control triggered this slide before allowing searchers onto the mountain. Credit: Skyline Avalanche)

DPS crews detected a signal from Pearson’s avalanche beacon and recovered his body about six feet below the surface, “quite a bit upstream from where the snowmobile was recovered,” according to San Juan County Sheriff Jason Torgerson.

Both Pearson and Hawkins were married. Pearson leaves behind four kids, Hawkins leaves behind three. You can donate to the Pearson and Hawkins families here.