The Unified Police Department of Salt Lake City received a hang-up call around 11:40 a.m. Saturday, and then received a report that there had been an avalanche in the Wilson Basin area with five people trapped, according to Sgt. Melody Cutler, a public information officer with the police department.
Two groups of skiers, one group of three and another of five, began skiing on the mountain at the same time and authorities think the avalanche was caused by the group skiing, Cutler said.
“Four of those skiers were able to dig their way out,” Cutler said. “All four of the remaining are deceased.”
The skiers range in age from early 20s to late 30s, according to Cutler. A Life Flight rescue service was called to transport the survivors out of the area, and a flyover was being conducted to determine whether it is safe for rescuers to remove the deceased tonight, Cutler said.
The location where the avalanche occurred is a “very popular backcountry ski area,” Cutler told CNN, adding that it has “been under very high-risk avalanche conditions recently.”
Wilson Basin is by Mill Creek Canyon, about 20 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox responded to Saturday’s deaths on Twitter, calling it a “terrible tragedy.”
“We deeply mourn the loss of life due to this devastating incident,” Wilson said.
The four are the most recent in a string of deaths caused by avalanches in three states, bringing the number of fatalities to nine.
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Jenny Wilson’s title. She is the mayor of Salt Lake County.