- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A 46-year-old man broke his leg but survived after being swept more than 400 feet down a steep mountain chute by an avalanche in the Utah backcountry.

The avalanche was triggered Wednesday morning when the man went down a slope known as “Jaws Chute” in the Days Fork area east of Salt Lake City, said Unified Police Det. Jared Richardson. Two other skiers with him went down the same slope before him with no problems.

His fellow skiers and six others who happened to be in the area quickly began searching for him after the avalanche occurred. The man had a rescue beacon on him that sent signals that allowed the others to pinpoint where he was buried.

He was buried under snow for an estimated four minutes until fellow skiers located him, Richardson said. He wasn’t breathing at first, but came to on his own.

The man, whose name is not being released, is expected to live. He is in a hospital awaiting surgery for a compound break in his leg.

The man and his companions were expert-level skiers who were prepared in case of an avalanche, which probably saved his life, Richardson said.

“This definitely could have had a different outcome,” he said.

The avalanche occurred outside the boundaries of any Utah ski resort.

The Utah Avalanche Center has been warning of considerable avalanche danger this week after a storm dumped wet snow in the mountains.

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