Walter Alton Smith died while aiding in an attempt to rescue Edward L. Mason following an avalanche, Ouray, Colorado, February 14, 1958. While Mason, 44, assistant mine foreman, was making his way to a mining camp through snow on a road in a mountain canyon, an avalanche occurred, burying him in a bank of snow 20 feet deep that covered the road for 500 feet. Another man some distance behind him was caught at the edge of the avalanche but succeeded in digging himself out. He made his way to the camp a mile and a half away and summoned help. Despite the threat of a four-month accumulation of snow in dangerous slide areas on the mountains, Smith, 46, mine foreman, and another man, each operating a bulldozer, began clearing the road to the snow bank, aided by a miner who used a probing pole to determine depths. Nearly three hours later, one of the bulldozers ceased to function within 600 feet of the snow bank. As the three men discussed further action, a second and larger avalanche began at the mountain crest 2,800 feet above them. Smith and the two other men ran along the road in an effort to escape the snow surging swiftly down the mountainside, but all were buried in a snow bank as much as 30 feet deep covering the road for 1,500 feet. Rescue parties recovered their bodies six days later. Mason’s body was located the next day.
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