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Alaska National Park Service worker killed after triggering avalanche

By Melissa Alonso and Paradise Afshar, CNN

A National Park Service employee was killed Thursday after setting off an avalanche while backcountry skiing, according to the Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska.

Denali National Park and Preserve staff member Eric Walter was backcountry skiing on a north-facing slope, the park and preserve in Interior Alaska said in a statement.

“Our thoughts are with Eric’s family in this challenging time,” Denali National Park and Preserve Superintendent Brooke Merrell said.

Park staff received a report of a skier triggering an avalanche about 1 p.m. local time Thursday on an unnamed slope south of Jenny Creek and East of Savage River, the statement said.

Denali rangers dispatched to the area used a spotting scope to look for survivors.

“Two skis, one vertical, one lying flat on the surface, as well as an orange bag were observed in a debris field in the avalanche area,” the statement said.

Mountaineering rangers reached the scene in a helicopter and determined the lone skier had died. He was later identified as Walter, according to the statement.

Walter is remembered as “a much-loved member of the Alaska Regional Communications Center and was known throughout the Alaska Region for providing radio-based safety support and dispatch services for National Park Service operations across Alaska,” the statement said.

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