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Seachers Find Hat of Utah Avalanche Victim

December 28, 2003

PROVO, Utah (AP) _ A dog found a cap that belonged to a missing snowboarder Sunday as teams searched for three young men buried by a huge avalanche.

The gray baseball cap was the first visible clue recovered since the three were caught by the slide Friday in Provo Canyon in Utah’s remote northern backcountry.

``We know they’re up there. It’s just a matter of time,″ Yvette Rice, a spokeswoman for the Utah County Sheriff’s office, said Sunday morning.

After the discovery, the search was suspended so crews could use explosives to blast away more loose snow as a precaution against further avalanches.

According to a description given to the men’s families, the cap belonged to 18-year-old Adam Merz, Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy said.

Merz, Rod Newberry, 20, and Mike Hebert, 19, were snowboarding with two other friends when they were swept away by the avalanche that piled snow as much as 10 feet deep. The two other friends survived.

They were snowboarding in a remote area where there is no avalanche control, about a mile north of Sundance ski resort and about 25 miles northeast of Provo.

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