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WINTER STORMS BRING SNOW, ROAD CLOSURES AND TRAGEDY TO REGION

February 12, 2019

The winter storm that hit East Idaho this past weekend left tragedy in its wake and the possibility of more snow is in the region’s forecast for the remainder of the week.

Saturday saw one snowmobiler injured and one snowboarder killed in separate crashes, while another snowmobiler was killed in a Sunday accident.

Snow continued to fall on much of East Idaho on Monday as a new storm hit parts of the region. As of Monday night Highway 20 between Arco and Carey, Highway 32 between Ashton and Tetonia and Highway 33 between Sugar City and Tetonia had all been shut down until further notice because of blowing and drifting snow.

The National Weather Service said additional road closures are possible Monday night and Tuesday morning because of the storm.

Judging by what happened during the Saturday-Sunday snowstorm, snowboarders and snowmobilers might be as much at risk as motorists during the winter weather currently hitting the region.

Sunday’s snowmobile-related accident occurred around 8 p.m. when Adam Figueroa, 27, of Island Park, drove his 2005 Polaris snowmobile from a parking lot onto Highway 20 in Island Park and collided with a 2005 Subaru Legacy that was heading westbound on the highway, state police said.

Figueroa was pronounced dead at the scene following the crash. He was not wearing a helmet.

Jacob Logan, 27, of Guilford, Vermont, was driving the Subaru. He was wearing his seat belt and was not injured in the collision, state police said.

The snowboarder who died on Saturday succumbed to injuries suffered when he collided with an SUV on a road near an Idaho ski resort.

State police identified the deceased snowboarder as Shea Helmick, 32, of Meridian.

Helmick was snowboarding near Bogus Basin Ski Resort in Boise County around 3:15 p.m. Saturday when he attempted to jump over Bogus Basin Road and was struck by a 2006 Hummer H2 driving northbound on the road.

Neither the juvenile driving the Hummer nor his passenger was injured in the crash. Both were wearing their seat belts, state police said.

Helmick was transported via ambulance to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise following the crash. State police reported Saturday night that Helmick died at the hospital.

He was not wearing a helmet at the time of the collision with the SUV, state police said.

Another snowmobiler, a 60-year-old woman whose name hasn’t been released, crashed in the mountains south of Pocatello on Saturday.

She suffered a severe leg injury and had to be airlifted out of the mountains.

The accident happened around 11:50 a.m. Saturday in the Elk Meadows area off of Mink Creek Road. Details on how the crash occurred have not yet been released by authorities.

The Power County Sheriff’s Office said that due to the remote location of the accident, the Portneuf Medical Center emergency helicopter was called in to airlift the woman to PMC in Pocatello. Authorities described the woman’s injuries as non-life threatening.

Hazardous conditions on the region’s roads and in the backcountry will likely continue this week.

Winter weather advisories have been issued for much of East Idaho regarding several inches of snow expected to fall Monday afternoon through Tuesday morning. The Island Park, Ashton, Driggs, Victor, Tetonia, Palisades, Swan Valley and Bone areas could receive maximum potential snowfall amounts of 8 or 9 inches during that time frame. Motorists in those areas should use caution while driving because of the snow-covered roads and limited visibility.

The rest of East Idaho can expect at the most an inch or two of snow Monday afternoon through Tuesday morning.

Snow is again in the forecast Tuesday night in East Idaho, though not much accumulation is expected, but several inches of snow could fall on the region on Wednesday.

More snow could fall on East Idaho Thursday through Sunday.

The National Weather Service has not yet issued any winter weather warnings and/or advisories for the expected precipitation Tuesday night through Sunday, but such alerts will likely be forthcoming if the forecast holds.

Elsewhere in the state, much of the central Idaho mountains including Stanley, Ketchum and Sun Valley are under winter weather advisories calling for several inches of snow Monday afternoon through Tuesday morning. Winter storm warnings are in effect in North Idaho as well as in areas north of Boise and Mountain Home.

Outside of Idaho, winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories are in effect in Washington state, Oregon and Montana, winter weather advisories are in effect in Wyoming, and hazardous weather alerts have been issued in Nevada and Utah.

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