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Rescuers Retrieve Body of West Hartford Man Killed in Avalanche

Colchuck Peak. Chelan County Sheriff's Office Facebook image

The Chelan County (Washington) Sheriff’s Office said Friday that the body of Seong Cho of West Hartford has been recovered.

Rescue crews were able to retrieve the body of a West Hartford man killed in an avalanche on Colchuck Peak in Washington. Chelan County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page

By Ronni Newton

The Chelan County Sheriff’s Office said Friday in a news release that rescuers were able to retrieve the body of Seong Cho, 54, a Korean national and resident of West Hartford, who was one of three climbers killed when they were swept away by an avalanche Sunday on Colchuck Peak, near Leavenworth, Washington.

“Today was the first day weather conditions allowed air resources to fly into the area,” the report from the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office said. “Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Helicopter Rescue Team was able to locate Mr. Cho’s body under a thin layer of snow at the GPS coordinates provided by a surviving member of the climbing party. The body has been turned over to the Chelan County Coroner’s Office.”

Cho was killed in the avalanche along with another man, 66-year-old Yun Park of Palisades Park, NJ, and 60-year-old Jeannie Lee of Bayside, NY. Their names were released on Wednesday.

The Snohomish County Helicopter Rescue Team attempted to locate the bodies of the other two climbers, officials said, but were unsuccessful. A RECCO device mounted on a cable below the helicopter was employed in the search. The device is able to detect chips that are sewn into some outdoor gear which could help provide the location off someone buried in avalanche debris, the sheriff’s office said.

The Chelan County Sheriff’s Office said rescuers will not be deployed by ground until conditions are safe.

Chelan County Sheriff Mike Morrison said previously that his office was contacted Monday about an avalanche near Colchuck Lake that had occurred on Sunday. The incident was reported by a 53-year-old Maryland man who was part of the climbing group but had remained at base camp on Sunday while six others from the group were attempting the ascent of Colchuck Peak. News reports state that the climbers were members of a New York-based climbing club.

The earlier news release stated: “The lead climber triggered an avalanche while attempting to climb the Northeast Couloir of Colchuck Peak. Four of the climbers were swept down the couloir [a steep, narrow gully] approximately 500 feet. Three of the climbers died as a result of trauma sustained in the fall.” The other climber involved in the avalanche, a 56-year-old man from New York, sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was able to return to base camp with two other climbers who were uninjured.

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