Local man survives avalanche in McCall

MCCALL, ID - A Lewiston man survived an avalanche and lives to tell the tale.

"I feel very lucky. Very fortunate. It's still kind of sinking in," said Dusty Eller.

26-year-old Eller was snowmobiling with a group of friends in McCall over the weekend, after he decided he wanted to make one last run before moving to a different part of the mountain.

He said that's when snow started shifting all around him. What happened next is something he'll never forget."As I pulled the skis around, I felt the mountain move," said Eller.

Before he could try to move he saw what could be described as a tsunami-like force bearing down on him. "I looked up and I saw a three foot wall of snow coming at me," said Eller.

It's at that point that he did his best to get out of the way of his snow mobile, then tried to maneuver in the snow. But with the snow being so heavy and wet there wasn't much he could do. "I knew that if I freaked out, I was going to use up more oxygen," said Eller.

An avalanche beacon is what Eller believes saved his life. It transmits a signal and that's how they were able to locate his body. The signal from the beacon and the bumper of his snow mobile indicated to his friends where they needed to start digging.

They hit his helmet several times, but Eller blacked out immediately and doesn't remember a thing. "Shovels hitting me. It just shows how frantic they were to dig fast enough to get to me in time," said Eller.

Eller was under about three feet of snow for approximately eight to nine minutes. If he had been under longer than ten to 15 he most likely would have died. Now, the Idaho State Snowmobile Association wants him to share his story, so people can understand how dangerous mother nature can be.

"He has the experience of actually being caught in an avalanche, and being buried. And a lot of people don't understand what happens. It's kind of hard to talk about or explain what happens," said IDSSA Safety Chair Lauren Frei.

Eller told us, "It's been a few days and it's been going through my mind constantly. But I feel more educated and more cautious." Cautious, but not defeated. Eller says he plans on keep riding, all winter long.