Mother of Utah avalanche victim remembers her daughter


SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah (NewsNation Now) — The mother of one of the four who died in an avalanche Saturday said her daughter was a competent skier and it was the “wrong place at the wrong time”

Jill Moughamian recounted in an interview with NewNation affiliate KTVX her daughter, Sarah, was a very strong, confident, and compassionate young woman.

At 29 years old, Sarah Moughamian, along with three others, died in a backcountry avalanche in Millcreek Canyon Saturday.

“I am okay right now, of course it was terrible news, but life goes on,” said Jill.

The Moughamians grew up in rural Idaho. Jill and her husband still live there now.

Jill said her daughter undoubtedly lived life to the fullest

“She is a very competent skier,” said Jill. “This was just, I think, the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The time was 11:40 a.m. Saturday when the call came in for four skiers that were buried in Millcreek Canyon while four others unburied themselves and got help.

“I mean, I would just like to take this opportunity to tell everyone a little bit about our daughter Sarah,” said Jill.

Sarah was one of five siblings, went to college out east, but yearned to come back near her hometown in Idaho.

“So I talked to her last week,” said Jill. “She is one of my best friends.”

Sarah moved back to Salt Lake City for two reasons.

“There she found her two loves,” said Jill.

Sarah found her love for outdoor activities and her soulmate, her longtime boyfriend, while in Salt Lake City.

Sarah’s boyfriend is one of the four survivors in the deadly avalanche Saturday.

“He was actually the one that dug her out after he dug out two other people and when he got to her, she wasn’t breathing, and he tried to resuscitate her unsuccessfully and he stayed with her until the rescue,” said Jill.

Sarah was no stranger to skiing, rock climbing, and mountaineering.

She tried to spend every weekend with a new adventure. She was athletic and active and always wanted to keep up with her brother’s rambunctious lifestyle.

Jill said she will honor her daughter every day for the rest of her life.

The three others who died were also in their 20s; Louis Holian, age 26, of Salt Lake City, UT; Stephanie Hopkins, age 26, of Salt Lake City, UT; and Thomas Louis Steinbrecher, age 23, of Salt Lake City, UT.

The Deseret News reported that the last time four people were killed in an avalanche in Utah was on Feb. 13, 1992, at Gold Basin outside Moab, according to the Utah Avalanche Center. They were part of a volunteer avalanche observation team with the U.S. Forest Service.

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