MILLCREEK (ABC 4 News) – A 43-year-old woman who survived a 700-foot wide avalanche in Mill Creek Canyon says there is only one reason she is alive: her boyfriend.
Elizabeth Malloy and her boyfriend, Adam Morrey, 30, were back country skiing in the West Porter Fork area of Mill Creek Canyon on Jan. 12. Both are avid back country skiers and were well-prepared for the elements and terrain. However, late that afternoon, the couple decided to press their luck. Malloy admitted that their desire to have more fun clouded their judgment.
Malloy and Morrey were caught off-guard when a 700-foot wide slab of snow broke free and started sliding toward them. Morrey was able to avoid the brunt of the avalanche, but was still buried up to his chest. Malloy was hiking uphill at the time of the slide, and her ski boots were loosened so it was nearly impossible to escape the danger. Officials say she was caught up in the avalanche and buried face-first.
For hours, Morrey worked to free his girlfriend from the snowy trap.“It’s extremely cold up here, we wanted to get crews to her as soon as possible,” said Lt. Justin Hoyal of the Unified Police Dept.
Authorities also said Malloy created a small pocket of air beneath the snow, which extended her breathable oxygen. Morrey, meanwhile, was frantically searching for her -- fortunately, with the help of a locator beacon. Eventually, he located her position and began to dig her out with his avalanche shovel. When he pulled Malloy out of the snow, she was unconscious but still breathing. Then her heart stopped.
Officials say Morrey began CPR immediately, which revived the woman's heartbeat. Malloy, though unconscious at the time, said that she actually remembers Morrey performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation -- although, at first, she didn't realize that's what he was doing.
"I remember being woken up by sweet kisses," she said, according to the Deseret News
. "I was being woken up by being kissed awake."
Morrey then spent the next three hours slowly transporting his girlfriend down the canyon. A rescue helicopter eventually reached the couple and transported them to the University of Utah Hospital -- where Malloy was listed in serious condition. She was ultimately discharged with no serious injuries.
Authorities said because the skiers were well-prepared with the necessary equipment, it was likely the difference between life and death for Malloy.