Helmet cam captures snowmobiler racing to dig out friend buried in an avalanche
Heart-pounding footage shows the moment a snowmobiler is swept away in an avalanche -- and then his friend's desperate race to dig him out alive. Caution: This video may be hard for some to watch.
Jason Rubio and his buddy, John Sievers, were snowmobiling near Jackson, Wyoming, on Jan. 2 when Sievers triggered an avalanche, which resulted in a life-threatening turn of events that occurred in the blink of an eye. The entire incident was captured on Rubio's helmet camera.
The video begins as Rubio watches Sievers attempt to climb up a steep slope from a different hill across the valley. Sievers is making some headway, then the avalanche strikes. Both he and his snowmobile are swept away in the rush of snow coming down the mountain. Rubio, watching in horror from hundreds of feet away, wastes no time firing up his own machine and races across the snow-covered valley to find his friend.
"Do you copy?" Rubio can be heard shouting into what appears to be a walkie-talkie. As he tumbled in the avalanche debris, Sievers had managed to keep one gloved hand above the snow and was waving it frantically. Rubio quickly spots the glove and realizes his friend is entirely buried except his two hands poking above the snow.
John Siever's gloved hands are the only part of his body that wasn't buried in the avalanche. (Jason Rubio via Storyful)
Rubio leaps into action, working to dig out his friend's head. In the video, Sievers can be heard screaming and shouting from beneath the snow as he struggles to breathe. Rubio frantically digs his friend's head out from the snow and rips off his helmet.
Sievers is panting, gasping for breath, unable to speak.
"I'm so sorry, man!" Rubio can be heard telling him.
Sievers later posted the video of the rescue to his Facebook page and said he was thankful to walk away from the accident.
John Sievers struggles to breathe seconds after his friend dug him out and tore off his snow-filled helmet. (Jason Rubio via Storyful)
"Scariest experience of my life," he said, adding, "thank God, Jason Rubio was right there." Sievers acknowledged in the post that there "definitely could've been a different ending. I'm very thankful to walk away from this."
He also noted that his avalanche airbag had failed to deploy even though he had pulled the handle repeatedly.
"The bag failed to deploy because I didn't attach the trigger cable correctly. Please make sure you take the time to install your canisters completely and correctly," Sievers cautioned his followers on Facebook. "Learn from my simple mistake that almost cost me my life ... I hope that my experience is able to reach people like me that think it can't happen to them and show them that it can and will!"
Sievers' post was accompanied by video of him demonstrating how to properly attach the trigger cable and how the bag deploys when prepared correctly. Watch it here.
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