Police: Alaska oil firm head dies in avalanche
ANCHORAGE: The president of ConocoPhillips Alaska was killed and another person was feared dead after the two were swept away while snowmobiling on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, state police said.
Jim Bowles, the head of the oil giant's Alaska operations, was with a dozen snowmobilers in the Grandview wilderness area near Seward when an avalanche roared down a slope Saturday, burying him and Alan Gage.
Bowles' body was recovered before nightfall, but Gage couldn't be located before the search was suspended because of darkness. The search was to resume Sunday weather permitting.
Rescuers from his party pulled Bowles from the snow and used CPR for 30 minutes to revive him but he was pronounced dead, troopers said.
In another Alaskan avalanche Saturday, police said a skier was killed after being buried in a slide in the Hiland valley area near Anchorage.
Members of the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group reached the man who was pronounced dead by a physician with the group. His name was being withheld pending notification of relatives.
Bowles, 57, has headed Conoco Phillips Alaska since November 2004 and oversaw roughly 900 employees in the state, said spokeswoman Natalie Lowman.
"He was a great leader for our company," she said.
Gage, 40, is a member of the company's capital projects team in Anchorage, Lowman said.
Gov. Sean Parnell issued a statement early Sunday saying he and his wife, Sandy, were saddened by Bowles' death and lauded his work in Alaska.
"Jim brought so much to our state: his love of the great outdoors, his leadership of ConocoPhillips Alaska, and his dedication to making Alaska a better place for all of us to call home," Parnell said.
A group of about a dozen were traveling together in the Grandview area when the avalanche struck, troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said.
Forecaster Carl Skustad with the Chugach National Forest's Avalanche Information Center said the party was in moderate terrain, with probably a 35-40 degree slope. But with the weak layer underneath, that can be enough for snow to let loose, he said.
At least one member of the party drove back to the railroad tracks to call in the accident around 12:30 p.m. The response included a trooper helicopter and a Forest Service crew.