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Procession, funeral held for victim of Sawtooths avalanche
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Procession, funeral held for victim of Sawtooths avalanche

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KETCHUM — A Corvallis, Montana, man was killed in an avalanche Friday in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains.

Andy Jessop, 30, was snowmobiling in the Smiley Creek drainage when he triggered a very large avalanche while trying to climb a slope, according to a preliminary report from the Sawtooth Avalanche Center. The avalanche was in the Smiley Creek drainage, about 8 miles southwest of the Galena Summit.

Jessop’s airbag deployed, but he was caught in the debris flow and carried about 600 feet down the mountain. Members of his party were not able to revive him at the accident site.

The avalanche traveled about 1,000 feet and stretched across a 500-foot gully. The avalanche report said the contours of the gully funneled the slide inward. Debris was piled up to 30 feet deep at the point where it stopped.

Jessop was a father of five, a well-known mechanic who owned Innovative Auto Services and a member of the Ravalli County Police Reserves.

His body was escorted by a procession of vehicles late Friday from the top of Lost Trail Pass to Hamilton.

Ravalli County Sheriff Steve Holton said his office planned a four-car escort, but it quickly grew as word spread about Jessop’s death. Holton’s caravan was joined by vehicles from the Montana Highway Patrol, Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, volunteer fire departments and personal vehicles.

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Jessop was “a dependable, honest, steady, steady guy,” Holton said. “He leaves behind a wife and five children. We all feel horrible for them. It’s just a really tough deal.”

People turned out to support the family and honor Jessop.

“It turned out to be pretty amazing,” Holton said. “It was supposed to be pretty small, but by the time it was done there was a line that was three-quarters of a mile long. It was a pretty amazing tribute to a pretty amazing young man.”

In his obituary, his family said: “Andy was loved and respected by all who knew him, and will be greatly missed. He was a man of strong convictions and stood up for truth and righteousness; he was honest, almost to a fault. He spent his short 30 years serving others, and never turned down anyone who needed help.”

The funeral service was held Tuesday at the Pinesdale Chapel.

A GoFundMe site has been established to support Jessop’s family at bit.ly/37yftRB. As of Tuesday at noon, it had raised over $98,500 toward its $100,000 goal.

Jessop’s death was the 31st avalanche fatality since the middle of December.

A rescue team in northern Colorado used an avalanche-trained dog to find the body of a man who was killed near Ruby Mountain. Five snowmobilers were on the mountain when an avalanche broke on a northeast-facing slope southeast of Rand. The slide swept two of the snowmobilers away. One man was partially buried, while another was completely buried by the avalanche. The Colorado Sun reports that the man was not wearing an avalanche transceiver at the time. A rescue crew arrived a few hours after the accident but were unable to locate the man. A trained dog later found the man's body one meter deep at the bottom of the avalanche. The avalanche was around three-quarters of a mile wide and ran about 400 feet.

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