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An avalanche forecaster died Thursday night in an avalanche in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

When Craig Patterson, 34, didn't come home on time, his family in Park City called his co-workers at the Utah Department of Transportation, said Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal. UDOT in turn called 911 to report him missing about 7:39 p.m.

A Life Flight helicopter flew into the canyon while there was still daylight, and crews spotted Patterson's body in the Cardiff Fork area. He had been out checking snow stability when it appears he got caught in an avalanche, Hoyal said, though his body wasn't ultimately buried in the snowslide.

A ground crew was still working late Friday to recover his body.

UPD will continue to investigate Patterson's cause of death, Hoyal said.

UDOT spokesman Nile Easton released this statement: "The UDOT family lost one of our own Thursday when veteran avalanche forecaster Craig Patterson died in a snow slide. Craig had worked with the department since 2006 and was a veteran back country skier. He was out doing the job that he loved to do, making the canyon safer for everyone to enjoy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones as we continue to gather information about this terrible tragedy."

— Reporter Bob Mims contributed to this story

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