Authorities recover body of CT man killed in Washington State avalanche; 2 others still missing

The lead climber accidentally triggered the avalanche in the Pacific Northwest.

ByJon Haworth ABCNews logo
Saturday, February 25, 2023
Authorities recover body of 1 of 3 climbers killed in Washington state
Search crews found the body of 54-year-old Seong Cho from West Hartford, Connecticut on Friday.

LEAVENWORTH, Washington -- Authorities have recovered the body of one of the three climbers killed in an avalanche in Washington State.

Search crews found the body of 54-year-old Seong Cho from West Hartford, Connecticut on Friday.

Officials say the lead climber accidentally triggered the avalanche while attempting to reach the peak of an 8,705-foot mountain a few days ago.

The incident occurred on Sunday when a group of six climbers -- all from the East Coast -- were attempting to climb Colchuck Peak which sits at the south end of Colchuck Lake, approximately 8 miles south of Leavenworth, Washington, in the Pacific Northwest.

The bodies of 60-year-old Jeanie Lee from Bayside, Queens and 66-year-old Yun Park from Palisades Park, New Jersey have not yet been located.

Four of the climbers were swept approximately 500 feet down the mountain during the avalanche. Another climber, a 56-year-old man from New York, sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was able to hike back to base camp with the two remaining survivors, a 50-year-old man from New York and a 36-year-old man from New Jersey.

When they finally arrived at camp, they sent a seventh member who did not venture out climbing for the day -- a 53-year-old Maryland man -- to go get help.

"Sheriff Mike Morrison reports on February 20th, 2023, deputies were contacted at the CCSO Leavenworth substation about an avalanche that occurred near Colchuck Lake the previous day," read the statement from Chelan County Sheriff's Office in the aftermath of the avalanche. "A total of 22 rescuers responded to the trailhead to assist with this effort. They were from Chelan County Mounty Rescue, Chelan County Volunteer Search and Rescue and ORV unit, Seattle Mountain Rescue, Tacoma Mountain Rescue, and Yakima Mountain Rescue."

Once officials reached the base camp at approximately 1:30 p.m. on Monday, they determined that, due to the avalanche conditions, it was too dangerous to continue their recovery mission of the three deceased climbers and made the decision to return with the surviving climbers back to the trailhead, authorities said.

In total, nine people have died this winter in avalanches across the United States, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center -- four in Colorado in three separate instances, one in Montana, one in Nevada, and now three in Washington following this event.

Last winter, 17 deaths from avalanches were reported in the United States with no single incident killing more than two people making this the largest avalanche death toll since an avalanche at Wilson Glade in Mill Creek Canyon, Utah, killed four people on Feb. 6, 2021, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

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