Two killed in Saturday avalanches

Accidents took lives of Anchorage woman, man from Fairbanks

Posted: Monday, April 10, 2000

PAXSON - Authorities on Sunday recovered the body of a Fairbanks snowmachiner killed by an avalanche near the site of the Arctic Man competition.

He was one of two people killed by avalanches in Alaska on Saturday, according to Alaska State Troopers. The other was a 44-year-old Anchorage woman skiing near Talkeetna.

The body of Walter J. Coty III, 43, was recovered early Sunday, according to Greg Wilkinson, a trooper spokesman. He was buried under about 4 feet of snow in the avalanche debris field.

Coty was buried in an avalanche Saturday afternoon. He was ``high marking'' on the mountain when the avalanche occurred, according to troopers. High marking is a competition to leave the highest track on a mountain.

Troopers believe Coty had survived another avalanche earlier in the day, one of four in the area that day.

Also killed Saturday was Michele Potkin of Anchorage. A witness told troopers that Potkin and Joseph Kluberton, 18, of Talkeetna were caught in a slide, and then tumbled off a 200-foot cliff, though the avalanche stopped short of the cliff.

The incident occurred about 3 p.m. on Snowshoe Mountain, about 20 miles southeast of Talkeetna near the headwaters of Montana Creek.

Potkin died at the scene despite efforts of fellow members of a wilderness medicine course to revive her. Kluberton was taken by helicopter to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. He was treated there and released Saturday evening, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Potkin and Kluberton were on a wilderness medicine course conducted by the Alaska Mountaineering School in Talkeetna, said Wilkinson of the troopers. They had a day off Saturday and members of the group were using a snowmachine to ferry people up the mountain, then skiing or snowboarding down.

Potkin was on telemark skis and Kluberton was on a snowboard when they tumbled over the cliff, Wilkinson said.



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