Two university students rescue dog buried in avalanche: ‘I think they saved his life’

·3-min read

After an avalanche occurred at a popular skiing destination, two university students went searching for a dog that had been buried under the snow for nearly 20 minutes.

On 26 December, Bobby White and Josh Trujillo, students at the Colorado School of Mines, were backcountry skiing at Berthoud Pass, in Colorado, when they saw an avalanche approaching. Both Trujillo and White avoided getting caught in this snow, along with everyone else on the mountain. However, after it was over, Scott Shepherd was still searching for his Chesapeake Bay retriever, Apollo, who had disappeared into the snow after seemingly triggering the avalanche when he ran away from his owner above a steep slope.

"He started moving, and he just looked confused like: ‘Why am I sliding down the hill?’ And then he was just gone,” Shepherd told ABC News.

While in the midst of searching, Shepherd was approached by Trujillo and White, who, after confirming that no other skiers were lost in the avalanche, used their probe poles to search through the thick snow.

After 20 minutes, Trujillo spotted Apollo’s nose. Along with a stranger nearby who offered to help, Trujillo and White spent another minute digging before the dog leaped out of the snow, with the rescue filmed by a GoPro that White had on his helmet.

"I found him! I found him, I found him, I found him!" Trujillo could be heard yelling in the video. "I can see him. He’s still alive."

After the dog was freed, Apollo, whose only sign of trauma was limping in his leg, instantly ran towards Shepherd, who could be heard exclaiming off-camera.

“There’s no way I would have found him in time to get him out there because I was still way up the slope, making my way around,” Shepherd told ABC News. “I think they saved his life, and I can never be grateful enough for that.”

Shepherd also shared that, after a few days of rest and calls to the veterinarian, Apollo is completely healthy. However, he did note that the incident led to “a lot of tears and hugs,” and that the dog “got a lot of love for the next couple of days”.

While speaking with ABC News, Shepherd also expressed his regret over the incident and for letting his dog near slopes that were prone to avalanches.

“I feel like I got kind of got away with something that has such a huge lesson without huge consequences,” he said. “Like, he could have been lost forever. I thought the best case was that he was seriously injured, but nothing happened at all. It just still blows my mind.”

On Twitter, where the video of the rescue has been viewed more than 24,000 times, people have praised the two college students as heroes.

“My heart was racing through this whole video! Thank goodness they found this poor pup!” one person tweeted, while another said: “Thank goodness for kind people like these.”

As noted by the Utah Avalanche Center, being buried under an avalanche can be serious, as the resource explains that 9 per cent of human avalanche victims can be recovered if rescued within 15 minutes, However, after 45 minutes, only 20 to 30 per cent of victims are likely to be recovered.

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