Truckee roof slide buries man, teaches lessons
Ginny Aubuchon used to like the metal roof on her Tahoe Donner home because it quickly sloughs off snow. Now she’s not so sure.Four feet of snow accumulated on her roof from the recent storm, and on New Year’s Eve day it slid off at the most inopportune time. Her husband, Bob, was snowblowing around the deck of the house, and the snow came off the roof and buried him.”One minute he was standing there, and the next minute he was gone; there was no sign of him,” said Ginny Aubuchon, a second homeowner. “Not a bit of clothing was showing – not a boot, nothing.”Frantically, she began screaming for her husband. She dug with her hands through the immense pile of heavy snow.He couldn’t hear her. Four feet of powder from the roof compacted into two feet on the ground below, burying him as “flat as a pancake,” she said. He could only move his fingers, which were covering his face.Inside the house, their daughter called 911.Then, Bob Aubuchon used all of his might to try and move some of the snow above him. His wife saw slight movement under the snowpack, dug in that area and slowly uncovered him.He escaped the accident with a bump on his head the size of a half dollar. He, and his wife, knew he was lucky.”If a child was under there, he would have been buried alive,” Ginny Aubuchon said.This is not the first incident of its kind in Truckee, said Gene Welch, information officer for Truckee Fire Protection District. One of the first rules of winter safety is being aware of roofs packed with snow, he said.”Wherever you go, you have to look up,” Welch said. “Don’t park or walk under a roof that’s going to shed because you’re in an avalanche zone.”Fortunately, Ginny Aubuchon was able to get her husband out of the snow before Truckee fire rescue crews arrived at the scene. Crews could not find the house immediately because the address was hidden by a tree covered with snow.Welch said this is an all-too-common problem, especially in Truckee. If people have their address numbers posted at all, many times they are covered by overgrown brush in the summer or snow in the winter, Welch said.”It’s a maintenance thing,” he said. “It’s something people need to be cognizant of, and people don’t usually know it until it’s too late, like [the Aubuchons] did.”Posting an address will not only help you in an emergency, Welch said, it can also help your neighbors.”It may not be your residence that has the emergency,” he said, “but we can overshoot an address if they’re not all within sight.”CAN EMERGENCY PERSONNEL FIND YOU?Don’t play hide and seek with emergency personnel. Help them find you quickly with these tips:• Your house numbers should be clearly visible from the street.• Make sure that bushes, vehicles or other objects don’t block house numbers.• Your house numbers should be in a contrasting color to your house, at least 3 inches tall.• If you have a rural home, mark your address clearly on the mailbox or a post at the front of your driveway.• Make sure your address is posted by every telephone in your home. In a stressful situations it can be very easy to forget your address.• Make sure all family members know how to call 9-1-1.-Information courtesy of the Truckee Fire Protection District.