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Dug from avalanche by boyfriend, woman recalls 'sliding face-first'

January 17, 2013|By Andrew Khouri

Elisabeth Malloy looked up and saw the oncoming slab. As the avalanche threatened to swallow her, she tried to swim to the top as she slid down a mountain east of Salt Lake City.

She couldn’t. The avalanche buried her.

“I immediately called for Elisabeth,” said her boyfriend, Adam Morrey, who had been backcountry skiing with Malloy on Saturday.

“There was no response from her,” Morrey, 30, said, his voice breaking as he recalled those first few minutes.

But the two had come prepared. And on Wednesday they sat side by side and told their story to reporters at a news conference.

Describing the avalanche as feeling like a “water slide,” Malloy said she couldn't stop her momentum.

“I was sliding face-first on my stomach downhill,” she said.

Morrey, who hit a tree during the avalanche, said he used a rescue beacon to pinpoint his girlfriend’s location and began digging with an avalanche shovel.

She was buried in about 18 inches of snow, according to news reports. The 43-year-old pediatric nurse was unconscious and breathing when Morrey found her.

Then she stopped breathing and Morrey performed CPR, the Associated Press reported. She awoke to “sweet kisses” from her boyfriend.

A skier passed by and helped the couple down the mountain, the AP said.

At the news conference, Malloy said that after she became engulfed in snow, she made a small pocket for air with her arms, meditated and began to breathe slowly. She was released Wednesday from University Hospital in Salt Lake City, where she received treatment for frostbite.

The rescue effort was “miraculous,” Malloy told reporters.

“It was amazing how it worked,” she said, turning toward her boyfriend. “It worked.”

He looked down.

“Here we are,” he said.

Malloy chuckled, then repeated her boyfriend’s words.

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