Avalanche survivor strives to inspire
Monday, February 2, 2009
STERLING, Colo. — Imagine driving down the road when out of no where your car gets swept away by an avalanche. That’s what happened to Dave Boon, who shared his story and some of the lessons he learned from that day at the Rotary Club meeting on Wednesday.
Boon said the sky was clear on Jan. 6, 2007, as he, his wife, June, and a family friend, Gary Martinez, were driving up Berthoud Pass on Highway 40 on their way to go skiing at the Winter Park/Mary Jane Ski area.
As they drove along, Boon said they were pointing out avalanche chutes to Gary. They had just pointed out the Stanley slide, which they told Martinez hadn’t seen an avalanche in a while. Boon said about a minute and a half later the Class IV avalanche hit them.
“I saw a poof of white powder and the next thing I know the car had blown into the guard rail,” Boon said.
Boon said that after being blown into the guard rail by a blast of cold air, the right side of the car was grinding on the guard rail when the avalanche hit. Boon said the avalanche broadsided the car and flipped them up and over the guard rail. As the car was spinning Boon said, “It’s an avalanche!”
The car started rolling to about 240 feet beyond the guard rail when they hit a 60 foot tree. Boon said the car started spinning like a top. As it was spinning, June shouted, “Make an air space!” remembering the avalanche training they had taken years ago.
Finally they came to a stop, over 300 feet from where the avalanche first hit them. They were upside down and buried alive.
After asking June and Martinez if they were okay and hearing them say they were he said “We’re going to be okay, we have air.”
Boon tunneled out and then went back into the car head first and dug the snow away from June’s face as she was spitting snow and glass from her mouth.
He tried to get her out, but her seatbelt was too tight. He crawled back out and shouted to some people standing above on the highway to call 911 and asked for a knife.
Boon got back in the car, cleared more snow from around June’s face, and then turned his attention to Martinez and helped him out of the car.
Then he went back into the car to check on June, who was starting to hyperventilate. Her head was pinned between the collapsed roof and her head rest.
Finally someone brought a knife and cut her shoulder restraint and she was pulled from the car.
All three made it back up the hill and then were taken to a hospital. No one had any serious injuries — just a few cuts and bruises.
After June was freed from the car, they saw a van that had ended up about 100 feet below them. Four of the five passengers in the van walked out of the accident. One had to spend the night in the hospital and was released the next day.
Boon believes what happened that day was a miracle.
“That all eight of us walked away is an off-the-chart miracle,” he said.
Boon also said it was fortunate that the avalanche happened when it did, because had it happened two hours earlier, during rush hour, it probably would have taken 10 or 20 cars off the road, instead of just two.
He learned many lessons from that day that he wants to share with others, including:
Boon encouraged people to get passionate in their life and find something that excites them. He also encouraged people to dream.
“Dreams inspire you, motivate you and give you direction,” he said. “If you can conceive it in your mind, and see it and believe it, you can achieve it.”
After the meeting Boon signed copies of his book, “My Wish: Don’t Get Swept Away As a Teen,” which includes the story of surviving the avalanche. He wrote the book to help teens and young adults discover their gifts and their direction in life.
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