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Minnesotan killed in Montana avalanche

COOKE CITY, Mont. – An 18-year-old man from Lake Lillian, Minn., died Tuesday afternoon after being buried in an avalanche while snowmobiling in the Yellowstone area of south-central Montana.

The victim was identified as Zach Joseph Junkermeier by family members through the Peterson Brothers Funeral Home of Atwater.

The Yellowstone Park Dispatch received a report about 4 p.m. of a snowmobiler buried in an avalanche in the Daisy Pass/Crown Butte area near Cook City, according to the Park County Sheriff’s Department.

Five members of the Park County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue based in Cooke City responded to the scene and began probing the snow about 4:15 p.m.

The snowmobiler was located about 5:10 p.m. about 6 feet below the surface, according to the sheriff’s department. Rescuers were unable to revive him.

The victim was snowmobiling with a group of friends. He was about halfway up the slope when he was overtaken by the avalanche. Another member of the group tried to outrun the avalanche and was knocked off his snowmobile and into some trees. He was slightly injured, but was not buried.

The avalanche area is part of the Gallatin National Forest, part of the Yellowstone area. Officials consider this a large avalanche at about 500 feet wide, 600 feet long and 20 feet deep in areas.

The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center reports that there have been five avalanche fatalities in Montana this year, four of them in the last 18 days.

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