Snowmachine accidents kill 3 over weekend

Father and daughter die in avalanche near Summit Lake

Posted: Monday, January 14, 2002

A father and his 13-year-old daughter were killed Saturday while snowmachining near Summit Lake Glacier, southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska State Troopers said.

A Bethel man also died in a snowmachine accident over the weekend, troopers said.

The Summit Lake avalanche occurred Saturday afternoon about 10 miles off the Richardson Highway, about 125 miles from Fairbanks. A cornice the snowmachiners were sitting on gave way and they were swept several hundred feet to the bottom of a ravine.

All the snowmachiners were members of a Fairbanks family.

One member of the family was able to rescue his wife, but the other two could not be found, troopers said.

Wesley Rice, 39, called for help on a cell phone. He helped dig out his wife, 38-year-old Susan Rice, who was buried up to her neck. She was taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital to be treated for a hip injury.

Rough terrain and difficulty locating the victims delayed rescue efforts for several hours. The survivors were suffering from hypothermia when found.

The two other people - Donny Rice, 35, and his daughter Jessica - could not be located Saturday. Their bodies were found by rescuers Sunday morning. However, rough terrain prevented recovery of the bodies.

A National Guard Helicopter and a C-130 helicopter were used to bring members of several mountain rescue groups and their search dogs to the scene Sunday. A pararescueman with the 210th Air Rescue was lowered to the area of the avalanche and confirmed that Donny and Jessica Rice were dead.

The Rices were the fifth and sixth snowmachiners killed in Alaska avalanches this year, according to Bill Glude of the Juneau-based Southeast Alaska Avalanche Center.

In the Bethel incident, Dennis Lamont, 24, was riding his snowmachine on the Kuskokwim River near Napaskiak at speeds of up to 80 mph when he apparently hit a snow berm, troopers said.

He was transported to the hospital in Bethel where efforts to revive him failed.

Investigators say they think Lamont had been drinking prior to the crash.

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