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‘It just buried me so quick’: Palisades Tahoe avalanche survivor describes the moment he was rescued

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A 52-year-old man caught in the deadly avalanche at Palisades Tahoe said he reached a point where he thought he might not survive.Jason Parker credits a snowboarder named Luke and others on the mountain Wednesday morning with saving his life. He told KCRA 3 in an interview that he estimates he was buried in snow for up to eight minutes and had been starting to lose consciousness before the rescue.“And then the best thing ever happened,” he said. “I felt this sensation, this probe just nail me right in the back, and I heard this person yell, ‘I found him’ or, ‘We got him.’ I kind of woke up rejuvenated.” Parker, who lives in Reno, is a pass holder at the Palisades Tahoe. He said he and his fiancée knew that the KT-22 lift was going to open for the first time of the season on Wednesday and took the first chair up the mountain. | Video Below | An aerial look at KT-22 where the avalanche happenedHe expected conditions to be windy with low visibility. Still, he and other locals on the lift line at 8:30 a.m. also expected a “fun day,” he said. Right off the bat, Parker noticed some “good powder” but could tell the wind had deposited a lot of snow on the left side of the chair. He said after going back up the lift, he decided to check out the steep GS bowl area. As he skied down the mountain, he stopped and noticed some debris coming down. Ten seconds later, he was hit with a first wave of snow that put him on his back. He said he thought to himself, “Is this really happening?” The avalanche accelerated as he got to the area where the steep gully was, he said. He was flipped onto his belly and “going headfirst, trying to swim to the top.” Parker said he noticed two other skiers and yelled at them to “watch me, watch me.” He said that after getting through the gully he began to slow down and thought he would be OK. He estimates he was buried under six inches to a foot of snow at that point. But then he got hit by another debris field, “and it just buried me so quick.” Parker said that made an air pocket by “punching a hole” that wasn’t sealed yet and began to scream for help for what seemed like a couple of minutes. | Video Below | Palisades Tahoe Avalanche: A look at tools used to mitigate hazardsAt that point, his breathing was heavy, and he said he told himself to calm down and save oxygen. “Then it got real quiet,” he said. As he began to lose consciousness, Parker felt himself relaxing and thought he might “start dreaming.”“It was so weird,” he said, adding that he began to think, “This is the way you’re going out.” “I’ve lived a great life,” he said he thought to himself. He began to be “kind of at peace with it.” Soon, others who were searching for him made contact and dug out an airway for him. People traded off trying to dig him out, he said. “It was locals,” he said. “People that know the area well and that saved me. I can’t thank them enough.” | Video Below | Palisades Tahoe Avalanche: A look at wind hazardsParker said he is an experienced skier of 35 years and had avalanche training. Yet he said what happened to him is a reminder that everyone needs to be prepared when out on the slopes. “You can’t let your guard down when you’re in the mountains,” he said. “Looking back — a beacon would have been great. It gives that much more time for rescuers, if they have a transmitter, to find you.”Parker said that after finding his fiancée, who wasn’t caught up in the avalanche, they hugged “for as long as I could.” They then continued skiing down the hill. He hopes to reconnect with the snowboarder Luke at some point.| Video Below | Palisades Tahoe Avalanche: A look at ski patrol avalanche control effortsSee more coverage of top California stories here | Download our app.

A 52-year-old man caught in the deadly avalanche at Palisades Tahoe said he reached a point where he thought he might not survive.

Jason Parker credits a snowboarder named Luke and others on the mountain Wednesday morning with saving his life. He told KCRA 3 in an interview that he estimates he was buried in snow for up to eight minutes and had been starting to lose consciousness before the rescue.

“And then the best thing ever happened,” he said. “I felt this sensation, this probe just nail me right in the back, and I heard this person yell, ‘I found him’ or, ‘We got him.’ I kind of woke up rejuvenated.”

Parker, who lives in Reno, is a pass holder at the Palisades Tahoe. He said he and his fiancée knew that the KT-22 lift was going to open for the first time of the season on Wednesday and took the first chair up the mountain.

| Video Below | An aerial look at KT-22 where the avalanche happened

He expected conditions to be windy with low visibility. Still, he and other locals on the lift line at 8:30 a.m. also expected a “fun day,” he said.

Right off the bat, Parker noticed some “good powder” but could tell the wind had deposited a lot of snow on the left side of the chair.

He said after going back up the lift, he decided to check out the steep GS bowl area. As he skied down the mountain, he stopped and noticed some debris coming down.

Ten seconds later, he was hit with a first wave of snow that put him on his back.

He said he thought to himself, “Is this really happening?”

The avalanche accelerated as he got to the area where the steep gully was, he said. He was flipped onto his belly and “going headfirst, trying to swim to the top.”

Parker said he noticed two other skiers and yelled at them to “watch me, watch me.”

He said that after getting through the gully he began to slow down and thought he would be OK. He estimates he was buried under six inches to a foot of snow at that point.

But then he got hit by another debris field, “and it just buried me so quick.”

Parker said that made an air pocket by “punching a hole” that wasn’t sealed yet and began to scream for help for what seemed like a couple of minutes.

| Video Below | Palisades Tahoe Avalanche: A look at tools used to mitigate hazards

At that point, his breathing was heavy, and he said he told himself to calm down and save oxygen.

“Then it got real quiet,” he said.

As he began to lose consciousness, Parker felt himself relaxing and thought he might “start dreaming.”

“It was so weird,” he said, adding that he began to think, “This is the way you’re going out.”

“I’ve lived a great life,” he said he thought to himself. He began to be “kind of at peace with it.”

Soon, others who were searching for him made contact and dug out an airway for him. People traded off trying to dig him out, he said.

“It was locals,” he said. “People that know the area well and that saved me. I can’t thank them enough.”

| Video Below | Palisades Tahoe Avalanche: A look at wind hazards

Parker said he is an experienced skier of 35 years and had avalanche training. Yet he said what happened to him is a reminder that everyone needs to be prepared when out on the slopes.

“You can’t let your guard down when you’re in the mountains,” he said. “Looking back — a beacon would have been great. It gives that much more time for rescuers, if they have a transmitter, to find you.”

Parker said that after finding his fiancée, who wasn’t caught up in the avalanche, they hugged “for as long as I could.”

They then continued skiing down the hill.

He hopes to reconnect with the snowboarder Luke at some point.

| Video Below | Palisades Tahoe Avalanche: A look at ski patrol avalanche control efforts

See more coverage of top California stories here | Download our app.



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