FERRON, Emery County — The family of a man killed in an avalanche over the weekend says the slide was a freak accident.
Clint Conover and three friends, all skilled backcountry snowmobile riders, were riding near Huntington Reservoir when the avalanche occurred about 5 p.m. Sunday.
“All of a sudden, the avalanche came down from above and wiped him out,” said Paul Conover, Clint Conover’s father.
Conover, 36, loved the outdoors — he was a golfer and bow hunter — but his family said snowmobiling was his true passion. He could be found on snowmobile with a GoPro camera attached to his helmet, capturing the ride. His love for the sport came from his father.
“He liked to try and make snowmobiles learn how to fly,” Paul Conover said.
Father and son went snowmobiling together on Saturday.
“We talked about avalanches every time we went, and we knew how to test the snow,” he said.
His family said Clint Conover was well aware of avalanche danger, but he didn't trigger the avalanche that would end up killing him.
Paul Conover wasn't there on Sunday when his son and three friends went for a ride near Huntington Reservoir. He said they were not in the high country, but the weight of a falling cornice above Clint Conover triggered an avalanche.
“These fellows that were with him said if he had been 20 feet away in a different direction, it would have missed him,” he said.
He said his son was ahead of his friends. When they realized what had happened, they used avalanche gear to find him.
“He’s between 7 and 8 feet deep in this terribly hard-packed avalanche snow,” the father said. “It’s like digging in cement. They’re frantically just digging and digging and digging.”
By the time they got to him, he had no pulse and he wasn’t moving. One of his friends, an EMT, tried to revive him.
“They continued to pound on him and give him respiration that they could,” Paul Conover said. “These men are just devastated they couldn’t get there to save him."
The group sent a message with their GPS that gave their location and asked for help. Rescue crews from Utah State Parks, Emery and Sanpete counties and an ambulance from Fairview responded. But Clint Conover died from his injuries.
“We got a call from the sheriff who said, ‘He's gone.’ I couldn’t even comprehend that,” his mother, Kathleen Conover, said. “It was just too much. I just thought, ‘No, he can’t be gone.’”
This is the second child the couple has lost to tragedy. In 1984, their son Gordon Conover, along with 26 others, died in the Wilberg Mine Fire.
Clint Conover, who served an LDS mission in Venezuela, leaves behind a wife and five children between the ages of 2 and 13. His funeral will be in Ferron Saturday.
Paul Conover said during this difficult time, their faith is what counts the most.
“Clint’s little boy said it best the other night: 'Daddy’s only half dead. His body’s dead, but his spirit’s alive.' And that’s what makes it all bearable.”