A former Voorheesville resident died Sunday in an avalanche on Mount Herman in the state of Washington.
Authorities identified the man as Mark Panthen, 36, of Bellingham, Wash.
Friends said Panthen graduated from Voorheesville’s Clayton A. Bouton High School in 1997. While at the school, Panthen was a member of the school’s soccer team.
Wire service reports said Panthen and another man were skiing Sunday on Mount Herman, located next to the Mount Baker Ski Resort, when trouble started. The friend used a cellphone to call the resort around 12:45 p.m. and said Panthen was injured and needed help.
Rescue teams reported that two avalanches occurred within 15 minutes. Emergency response personnel, using a helicopter, confirmed Panthen died around 2:20 p.m. Rescuers provided aid to the other skier, who had suffered a head injury, and airlifted him to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bellingham.
The friend’s name was not released.
Officials said Sunday night darkness and the area’s rugged terrain delayed efforts to reach Panthen’s body. Search and rescue crews, both on the ground and in the air, recovered the body at around 1 p.m. Monday.
Scott Schell, program director for the Northwest Avalanche Center, said Mount Herman is 6,260 feet high, and its base is about 4,000 feet. Witnesses told experts that the avalanche came down from above the victims.
Panthen’s death was the second from an avalanche in Washington in the past four weeks, and the seventh avalanche death in the United States in the last week alone, according to the Northwest Avalanche Center.
Family friend Alissa Parsons O’Sullivan of Scotia said Panthen moved to Colorado for collegiate studies, and then moved to the state of Washington. He ran his own business, Panthen Hardwood Floors in Bellingham.
“He was always active, playing soccer, skateboarding, hiking, camping, skiing,” O’Sullivan said in response to a Facebook message. “He had an adventurous spirit that has clearly been passed along to his children. He took them skiing, hiking and biking and posted many pics and videos of them enjoying outdoor time together.”
The O’Sullivan and Panthen families were close.
“Our families had annual holiday parties together for years,” O’Sullivan said. “We would get together and decorate homemade gingerbread houses so that the kids could smash and eat them at the party. He always got into that, leaning on his creative side.”