BYU student buried by avalanche has died

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — A Brigham Young University student who was buried in an avalanche Saturday night has died Sunday, officials said.

Sgt. Spencer Cannon of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to FOX 13 News that Ashleigh Nicole Cox, 21, of Colorado Springs died at a hospital around 5 p.m. after being taken off of life support.

Cox was caught in an avalanche in the Tibble Fork area of American Fork Canyon.

The family released the following statement:

We appreciate the love and concern expressed by family, friends, acquaintances, and the community at BYU and in Colorado Springs for the loss of our daughter Ashleigh Cox. Ashleigh planned to graduate from BYU this spring and wanted to further her education in social work. She loved to work with those struggling with life’s challenges and dedicated her short life to serving others.

It has been difficult for us to handle the sudden loss of our daughter. Our faith in God has and will continue to help us through this difficult time. She will be missed.

A funeral will be held in Colorado Springs on February 15th. There will also be a memorial service the following Tuesday in Provo. Check local listings for times and locations.

A Pledgie account has been set up in Ashleigh’s name to help offset expenses incurred by the family. The link is https://pledgie.com/campaigns/24098.

Craig Gordon, an avalanche forecaster for the Utah Avalanche Center, said avalanche danger is high in Utah this weekend.

“Not only human triggered avalanches are likely, but also large, dangerous, destructive, natural avalanches are possible as well,” he said.

Conditions are as dangerous as they can get in Utah’s mountains. Click here for more details about conditions and the forecast.

According to officials with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, Cox wasn’t in the backcountry when an avalanche swept her away from five friends Saturday night while snowshoeing. Gordon said the recent storms have created very unusual avalanche conditions.

“We’re getting lots of snow, strong winds, and this is making our preexisting snow pack very cranky,” he said.

Authorities said Cox had already been under the snow for about 20 minutes when rescue team members arrived, and it took the them another 20 minutes to get her out.

Rescuers said Cox didn’t have a pulse and wasn’t breathing at the time. She was rushed to the hospital, where responders established a pulse.

Cox usually attends Sunday services at the Wilkinson’s Student Center at Brigham Young University. Sunday, friends and members of her LDS Church ward fasted and prayed for her recovery.

Meanwhile, Gordon said spontaneous slides in American Fork Canyon continue, and State Road 92 leading into the canyon was closed.

“Exercise some patience, this isn’t a situation that’s going to mellow out in the next day or two, but as the snow pack grows strong we’ll start to turn a corner and we’ll start to enjoy the snow we’re so famous for,” Gordon said.

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