The snowmobiler who died near Cooke City Saturday has been identified as 21-year-old Wyatt Coiteaux, a Washington state native who loved snowmobiling and was an amateur stockcar racer.
Coiteaux didn't care whether it was a car, a bike or a sled, family members said Tuesday. As long as it went fast, he was always ready to ride.
“He started racing really anything with wheels when he was in middle school, and that carried on into high school,” said his aunt Allison King in an online video interview.
Racing is a family tradition for the Coiteauxes. Wyatt's father, Sean, is a retired racer in Washington, and Wyatt was working his way up as an amateur stockcar racer — following in his dad's footsteps.
“To see my brother, just the thrill on his face to have this little guy looking up at him with adoring eyes," King said. "And then sharing in my brother’s passions with him, it was beautiful."
On Christmas Day, the Coiteauxes loaded up their trailer and made the 15-hour drive to Cooke City in search of some new terrain.
But on New Year's Day, tragedy struck while Wyatt and his 17-year-old brother Bryce were snowmobiling just outside of town — trying to get one last ride in before the sunset.
“Sean had already gone back to get dinner ready basically, so I have to think it was just boys seeing a beautiful day, and having one last chance to get a ride in,” King said.
An avalanche trapped Wyatt under five feet of snow. Nearby riders rushed to dig him out, but Wyatt didn't have an avalanche beacon, and it was too late.
“Especially with their knowledge of search and rescue protocol, I mean they had done everything right," King said. "They were geared up, but no they regrettably didn’t have that beacon."
Wyatt's body was found an hour later. It's left the family rattled, but they are trying to hold onto the fact that he was able to enjoy one last ride with his family — a ride they describe as epic.
“It’s beautiful he got to go out doing what he loved, but nobody should have to think about doing what they love as their final time doing it when they’re 21," King said.