Altoona Lakes avalanche victim identified


BUTTE, Mont. - Granite County Sheriff Scott Dunkerson identified a western Montana avalanche victim as 27-year-old Peter Maxwell.

Search and rescue crews responded to the Altoona Lakes area northeast of Philipsburg on Monday just after 2:30 p.m.

Dunkerson said Maxwell's avalanche transceiver triggered a call for the sheriff's department.

Maxwell was skiing with six other men, but was near the top of a slope by himself when the slide broke, Dunkerson said.

"I was told by witnesses that he went approximately 1,500 feet down the shoot," he said.

Maxwell's friends were able to find him through his transceiver, Dunkerson explained, and dig him out of 4 to 6 feet of snow within 15 to 20 minutes.

"Despite heroic efforts by his friends, they were unable to resuscitate him," he continued. Maxwell died of asphyxia.

Peter Maxwell was from Missoula. According to his Facebook page, he graduated from Bozeman High School in 2005 and the University of Montana in 2011.

Dunkerson said the group was staying at lodge nearby -- the Altoona Ridge Lodge.

The Lodge Facebook page thanked Granite County Search and Rescue, and expressed their regrets.

Maxwell is the fourth person to die in western Montana avalanches since Jan. 1. Including him, 22 people have died in avalanches nationwide since Dec. 26, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

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