Santa Cruz County Native Dies in Avalanche

Avalanche claims Rick Gaukel, 33

By Chris Roberts
|  Tuesday, Apr 23, 2013  |  Updated 2:36 PM PDT
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Snow Blankets Bay Area Peaks

AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

Snow falls near the spot where five members of a backcountry snowboarder group were found dead after they were trapped by an avalanche on Loveland Pass, Colo., Saturday, April 20, 2013. According to officials from the Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office, the five were killed on the high mountain pass in Colorado's White River National Forest earlier in the day.

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An Aptos High graduate and native of Santa Cruz County was one of the four people who died in an avalance Saturday in Colorado.

Rick Gaukel, 33, was snowboarding in backcountry near Loveland Pass, Colorado, in an event "called the Rocky Mountain High Backcountry Bash," the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.

Four snowboarders, including Gaukel, and a skier were on the mountain when an avalanche "600 feet wide and 8 feet deep" fell upon them.

One, Jerome Boulay, was buried but was recovered alive.


Gaukel was an experienced snowboarder who taught at a school for "at-risk youth," the newspaper reported. He leaves behind a wife, 33-year old Jonna Book.

He surfed, skateboarded and climbed ice and rocks. He lived in Hawaii, North Carolina and New Hampshire before moving to Colorado, the newspaper reported.

A memorial service is planned for May 4.

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