TODAY   |  December 30, 2013

Man rescues brother trapped in Colorado avalanche

Caught and buried in an avalanche while skiing, Edwin LaMair, 22, could have been in trouble had his brother Davis not been on hand to dig him out. The two brothers talk to TODAY’s Matt Lauer about their ordeal, caught on video.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> let's begin with dramatic video. a colorado skier lucky to be alive after being caught in an avalanche. his brother, racing down the mountain saved him. we'll talk to them exclusively in just a moment. but first, how their day on the slopes almost ended in tragedy.

>> reporter: 22-year-old edwin and his younger brother davis and a friend headed to the backwoods in colorado for skiing last sunday. a helmet mounted camera caught the action. off in the distance --

>> is that an avalanche.

>> reporter: and then.

>> that's edwin . that's an avalanche. i'm dropping. i'm dropping.

>> reporter: he races to his brother's rescue. buried up to his head in snow and panicked, but alive.

>> i was really worried i was going to be buried completely and suffocated to death.

>> reporter: the three men are certified in avalanche safety. edwin even had a defivice that lets you breathe for 30 minutes under snow.

>> i wasn't able to breathe through that.

>> reporter: miraculously edwin walked away from the terrifying ordeal with just a knee injury .

>> i'm extremely thankful that everything turned out the way it did and i didn't sustain any worse injuries or die.

>> edwin and davis are back home safe and sound. they're with us exclusively. guys, good morning.

>> good morning.

>> edwin , let me start with you. i see the brace on the knee, how are you feeling?

>> pretty good. i'm getting surgery later in the week. and i have a torn acl and mcl but i'm not in too much pain.

>> so you're off the slopes for awhile?

>> yeah, definitely until next season.

>> davis , give us perspective. we couldn't get it from the tape. how far away were you from edwin when you saw what happened?

>> i was probably 100 yards on top of a cliff and i could see him sliding down to my right.

>> did you know immediately what had happened?

>> no, at first i just heard a wind gust and it put me on alert and then i looked over and i couldn't see anything because there was white on white and i saw debris slow down and edwin slid down.

>> edwin , did you know immediately what was going on?

>> i saw the snow cracking up and started to slide downhill below me as i was making a right turn and then i fell head first downhill and that's when i realized i was in an avalanche.

>> so i can't imagine the feeling. the breathing device that you had was submerged or was knocked loose so it wasn't working. what was it feeling like there? did you feel that was it?

>> yeah. i was worried when i couldn't get the mouth piece for the breathing device back in my mouth and i inhaled some snow so i felt like i was choking or wasn't able to breathe and it shot me to the surface and i was swimming through the snow.

>> you were also lucky because this happened just before sunset so the light had fading. had this happened a few minutes later, we would have had a different outcome.

>> yeah, we were lucky that they were able to find me and my head was above before it got dark because if they had had to search for me in the dark it could have been a bad situation.

>> so brothers being brothers, edwin , how do you pay davis back?

>> i'll have his back any time we're doing any backcountry activity or anything in the mountains and i'll always be looking out for him like he did for me.

>> davis , does this give you any different look at skiing? i know you're avid skiers and good at it. but any different look?

>> backcountry. we never thought that run would slide. we had skied it earlier in the day. i guess it just teaches us you never know and be a lot more cautious now.

>>> guys, thank you very much. i'm glad it ended well. good luck to your broncos too.

>> thanks a lot.

>> happy new year.