Father and daughter die in Summit Lake avalanche

Posted: Monday, January 14, 2002

SUMMIT LAKE (AP) -- A father and his 13-year-old daughter were killed while snowmachining near Summit Lake glacier when a cornice of snow gave way, Alaska State Troopers said Sunday.

The avalanche occurred Saturday afternoon about 10 miles off the Richardson Highway about 125 miles southeast of Fairbanks. It occurred when the cornice the snowmachiners were sitting on gave way and they were swept several hundred feet to the bottom of a ravine.

All the snowmachiners were members of a Fairbanks family.

A fourth member of the family was able to rescue his wife, but the other two could not be found, troopers said.

Wesley Rice, 39, called for help on a cell phone. He helped dig out his wife, 38-year-old Susan Rice who was buried up to her neck. She was taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital to be treated for a hip injury.

Rough terrain and difficulty locating the victims delayed rescue efforts for several hours. The Rices were suffering from hypothermia when found.

The two other people -- Donny Rice, 35, and his daughter Jessica -- could not be located Saturday. Their bodies were found by rescuers Sunday morning. However, rough terrain prevented recovery of the bodies.

A National Guard Helicopter and a C-130 helicopter were used to bring members of several mountain rescue groups and their search dogs to the scene on Sunday. A pararescueman 3/8with the 210th Air Rescue was lowered to the area of the avalanche and confirmed that Donny and Jessica Rice were dead.

Troopers were not sure when the bodies would be recovered. They were in a dangerous area below the cornice where there were many large boulders, according to Sgt. Gary Johnson of the Delta barracks.

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