Snowmobiler survives being buried in avalanche near McCall

Snowmobiler survives being buried in avalanche near McCall
Dusty Eller, 26, in the center of the photo, examines the area where he was buried in snow by an avalanche. Photo courtesy Dusty Eller.
BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - A Lewiston snowmobiler says his safety equipment saved his life after he was buried in an avalanche near McCall Saturday afternoon.

Dusty Eller, 26, says his snowmobile got stuck on a hillside, and while he was working to free it the avalanche started uphill from him.

Eller says the wall of snow pushed him about 150 feet before he stopped.

He says his head was buried about three feet beneath the snow.

He couldn't move, and couldn't breathe.

"There was no oxygen in there, but I still stayed awake for 45 seconds to a minute I'm guessing," Eller says. "I knew I needed to keep calm, or I was just going to make things worse."

He says he remembers hearing digging around him, and voices yelling.

His friends above the snow were tracking his avalanche beacon, and eventually uncovered his foot.

Eller says he eventually lost consciousness for about 6-9 minutes before rescuers were able to dig him out and revive him.

"I was 15 to 20 feel below my sled, and if I hadn't had my beacon on they would have been looking around my sled first and they wouldn't have found me in time, so having the right protective equipment saved my life."

It's the first time Eller says he's seen an avalanche in person, but some of the people with him had been involved in one in the past.

He credits the avalanche beacon and his other riders' experience for saving his life.

As for giving up snowmobiling?

He says there's not a chance of that.