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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, March 3, 2004


Avalanche claims snowmobiler

Kimberly man killed in Smoky Mountains

Express Staff Writer

Snowmobiler Justin Dee Frederickson of Kimberly died in an avalanche Saturday, Feb. 28, northwest of Ketchum. He was riding with a party of five snowmobile riders in the Apollo Creek drainage in the Smoky Mountains.

Frederickson left behind his wife of nearly six years, Dorothy Frederickson.

Justin Dee Frederickson of Kimberly was killed in an avalanche Saturday, Feb. 28, in the Apollo Creek drainage of the Smoky Mountains, northwest of Ketchum. Sun Valley Heliski photo

"As we headed out of the mountains, (Justin saw) one last bowl nobody else had touched. We dumped our extra gas in his tank so he could play for a minute," said Tim Neumeyer, of Kimberly.

The avalanche occurred about 16 trail miles southwest of the Baker Creek trailhead on Highway 75, north of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area headquarters. It is a popular area for snowmobile riders.

"He climbed as high as he could," Neumeyer said. "Then he would pull his sled on its side and come out flat across the mountain. He did it about five to six times before it slid."

Frederickson was making a "highmark" turn and traversing the middle of the slope that had a 38 degree slope angle at the point where the avalanche was triggered, wrote Sawtooth National Forest Avalanche Center Director Janet Kellam in a report on the accident.

"There is no one answer to why avalanches are happening," she said. "There is an ongoing strain on the weak layer (of earlier snow). Itís like a stretched rubber band and somebody nicks it with a knife."

The slope angles on the mountain ranged from 35 to nearly 50 degrees, Kellam said. An initial slide, 1 foot deep, broke out around Frederickson. As this slide ran, it triggered a deeper, larger slide approximately three feet deep that broke at the top of the slope above Frederickson. The final slide size was 450 feet across and ran 600 to 800 vertical feet. Frederickson was buried under six feet of snow, according to the report.

"You hear about this happening to other people," Neumeyer said. "Iím looking at mountains with a lot more respect. It could have been me out there. I would have left behind my wife and two kids. We read the avalanche report, but we didnít do everything we should have."

Frederickson and his wife Dorothy had recently built a home in Kimberly after moving to Idaho about six years ago from Kansas. The couple would have celebrated their sixth anniversary March 29.

Frederickson worked for Gordon Paving as an asphalt manager, and had his own side business called Top Notch Striping. He was past president of the Magic Valley Snowmobile Club.

"It was an eye opener," Neumeyer said. "You have all that adrenaline rushing through you when you know someone is buried. Trying to find someone in a panic is not fun. If we hadnít had our avalanche beacons, we never would have found him."

Neumeyer said one of the other members saw the slide start, started his snowmobile to get out of the way, and when he looked again for Frederickson, he was gone.

"We heard a friend hollering. We got out our probes and started searching Ö We found him in about 20 minutes. We found the sled first. He was about 30 feet past the sled.

"We dug one hole and hit him. When we got to his head he had no helmet. It got ripped off in the avalanche. It took four of us to lift him out of the hole. It was not cool. He was blue and his legs were up by his head. We administered CPR for 15 minutes. He was pretty messed up but being a friend you have to try. It was a sight I donít want to see again."

After extricating Fredericksonís body, Neumeyer and the other three snowmobile riders backtracked to the trailhead and called Blaine County Search and Rescue. The incident commanders responded, but decided it was too late in the day to retrieve the body as the weather closed in.

Sun Valley Heliski brought in its helicopter for the retrieval effort Sunday and used the coordinates from Neumeyerís Global Positioning System receiver to pinpoint Fredericksonís body.

"People need to be careful," Neumeyer said. "Thatís all there is to it."

A service for Fredrickson will be held at noon Thursday, March 4, at the Kimberly LDS Stake Center, 3857 N. 3500 East in Kimberly. A viewing will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 3, and one hour before the service on Thursday at White Mortuary "Chapel by the Park" in Twin Falls.

A memorial fund has been set up in Fredericksonís name at the Pioneer Federal Credit Union in Twin Falls.


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