Avalanche Kills American Teen, Two Others In Swiss Alps

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Samuel Spencer Contributor
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An avalanche at a ski resort in the Swiss Alps on Monday resulted in the deaths of a 15-year-old American teenager and two unidentified individuals, local authorities said.

The incident occurred on the ski slopes of Riffelberg at Zermatt ski resort shortly after 2 p.m. Monday, according to a press release from the Valais Cantonal Police. Emergency response teams deployed following the avalanche, recovering four individuals, three of whom had already died, the press release said. Responders have since halted their search for other potential survivors.

Authorities transported the fourth skier, who suffered serious injuries, to a nearby hospital, the press release said.

“The deceased are a 15-year-old American, a man and a woman, whose identification has not yet been completed. In the case of the female victim, we do not yet have any clues as to the identity,” the press release stated. (RELATED: Skier Dies After 600-Foot Fall From Icy Mountain As Weather Conditions Wreak Havoc At Tourist Destination)

So far this winter, 14 people have died from avalanches in the Swiss Alps, most from backcountry skiing, “slightly below the long-term average of 17 for the same period,” according to the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research.

On average, avalanches kill roughly 28 people every year in the U.S., according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Those caught in avalanches often die from suffocation, trauma, or hypothermia.

A deadly avalanche in Palisades Tahoe reportedly killed one person and injured another Jan. 10. As a result, the popular resort closed both sides of its mountain for the day.