MATTAWAN, Mich.– A family from the Mattawan area is returning home to West Michigan after surviving an avalanche during a Colorado ski trip.
Justin Hodges, 15, and his younger brother and father were pumped to be on the slopes of the Arapahoe Basin for the last day of their trip. They were part of a group of 14 skiers and a patroller on Saturday afternoon.
The group was headed down a mountain when disaster struck.
“All the sudden I looked up and I saw a wall of snow just moving towards me and someone shouted avalanche,” recalled Justin. “It hit my skis, and I just fell back on my back.”
Hodges says he was overtaken by a tidal wave of snow.
“All I remember is the snow was just clogging my throat and I could hardly breathe,” Hodges said. He was eventually able to get himself up. He then waited for the ski patroller to give him instructions.
Justin’s 13-year-old brother suffered some bruises, and his father couldn’t get up due to an injured knee.
Golden retriever dogs were used to help with the rescue, and Justin’s father was eventually pulled to safety with a snowmobile.
All the skiers in the group survived with few injuries.
The Hodges family returned to Mattawan late Sunday and are thankful to be alive. For them, it was a ski vacation they will never forget.
Their avalanche experience made headlines in Colorado.
Still, Justin said he wouldn’t hesitate to get back on the slopes. “I would do it tomorrow, I’d do the same run again right now, but I don’t think my dad would let me.”
An accident investigation is being conducted at the resort.