Silver Mountain avalanche survivor shares his story, while family of late alpinist Jess Roskelley shares their support
SPOKANE, Wash. — As families mourn the loss of three skiers, a local family who lost their son in an avalanche last spring is sharing their support.
John and Joyce Roskelley lost their son Jess in April. He was a world class climber, scaling some of the most difficult peaks on Earth. Jess was in a group killed by an avalanche in the Canadian Rockies.
While his parents were well aware of the risks, they say their hearts break for the families who likely weren’t worried about avalanches at a ski resort.
“To be killed at a ski resort from an avalanche is unusual,” said John Roskelley. “When you’re skiing at a resort, you have a presumption of safety.”
Bill Fuzak survived Tuesday’s avalanche near Wardner Peak.
“I looked down and there were cracks everywhere and everything was moving and we were starting to slide down the hill,” said Fuzak.
That’s when he said he realized the snow was in control and there wasn’t much he could do.
“The pile of snow grabbed my ski and pulled me under. I couldn’t move anything from my chest down but my right arm was free so I started punching up,” Fuzak said.
He cleared a small air hole so he wouldn’t suffocate. Seconds later, a second avalanche hit, burying him even deeper.
“I thought ‘Well, maybe this is it,’ and then I felt the sadness that my family wasn’t going to see me.”
Fuzak, trapped for nearly an hour, eventually lost consciousness.
“The next thing I knew, there were people yelling my name and people taking snow away from my face and starting to dig me out,” said Fuzak.
He was rescued. Three other skiers were recovered.
“I just can’t say enough how sorry I am for these families,” said Joyce. “There’s just no way that you’re ever prepared and it’s just so painful.”
Silver Mountain Resort says normal avalanche control work was completed in the area where the avalanche happened that morning.
The Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center will be conducting an investigation into the cause of the avalanche. The Wardner Peak area will remain closed until further notice.
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