Snowboarder found safe after trapped in avalanche

STATELINE - A cell phone saved the life of a 30-year-old snowboarder who became trapped Saturday evening after he tripped an avalanche near Heavenly Mountain Resort.

Steven Peck, of South Lake Tahoe, was plucked by Douglas County Search and Rescue members at 10 p.m. after he called for help at about 5 p.m. Saturday.

Peck had been snowboarding in an out-of-bounds area of Heavenly when an avalanche sprung, carrying him down a chute where he landed near a creek bed. He was stuck under the snow but was able to use his cell phone to call 911 where the Eldorado County Sheriff's Department intercepted the call.

Douglas Country Search and Rescue began the search shortly after 5 p.m.

Shaun Thomas, operations leader for Douglas County Search and Rescue, held the command post at Stateline near the casino corridor. He directed five teams to look for Peck.

An experienced snowboarder, Peck told authorities that he cut into the out-of-bounds area, got lost and, as he was finding his way back, tripped a small avalanche. He was found near East Peak. "It's like finding a needle in a haystack; the needle just got smaller," said Eldorado Country Deputy Greg Almos.

Peck faces a $635 fine for boarding out of bounds, Thomas said. There have been at least five skier rescues in Eldorado County and four in Douglas County this season.

Peck apparently boarded the Olympic Chair west of the Palisades. Conditions were frigid at the time of the rescue. Peck communicated with the search and rescue command post but his cell phone at times cut out. He was found unharmed in five feet of snow.


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