Former Central Michigan football player Brandon John Zukoff was the victim of an avalanche while skiing outside of Snowmass, Colorado on Tuesday. A member of former CMU coach Mike Debord’s 2003 recruiting class, the 26-year old Grand Blanc (Mich.) native triggered, and then was caught in, an avalanche while skiing down a trail known as Sand’s Chute. The 6-foot-5 Zukoff was an offensive linemen listed as No. 2 on this 2004 depth chart behind NFL draft pick Adam Kieft.
An article detailing Zukoff’s tragic accident in the Vail Daily mentions the trail was unstable at the time Zukoff and three unnamed companions decided to descend it. Zukoff died when he triggered and was then caught in an avalanche as he skied down Sand’s Chute off the west side of the ski area. Two companions — one who skied safely down the chute first and one who picked a new route down after the slide caught Zukoff — located and dug out their friend and determined he had been killed, authorities said at a press conference Wednesday in Aspen.
Members of the ski patrol and Mountain Rescue Aspen, as well as Brian McCall, local forecaster with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, assessed conditions in Sand’s Chute and the surrounding area Wednesday morning and found the snow still unstable. The decision was made to delay recovery of Zukoff’s body until the snowpack stabilizes, possibly on Friday, said Sheriff Joe DiSalvo.
And on Wednesday, 32-year-old Michigan man has died after crashing while skiing at Arapahoe Basin in western Colorado. Summit County Coroner Joanne Richardson said the man crashed Wednesday afternoon and was in cardiac arrest when ski patrol members arrived. The man was flown to the hospital in Frisco, where he was pronounced dead. Richardson says the man, from Redford Township, Mich., died from blunt force trauma to his chest.