In the past seven deaths, seven deaths resulting from ski accidents have been reported, and an additional victim taken by ambulance helicopter to a trauma hospital. Lessons to be learned from this toll? Wear a helmet, ski in control and stay with a partner, particularly when skiing in treed areas.
The following stories illustrate the sad consequences when ski safety is ignored:
Last week, two ski accident fatalities occurred at Lake Tahoe. A Belmont father of two was killed after hitting a tree on the final run of his Valentine’s Day ski trip. Emergency crews found the father unconscious near the trail with major head and facial wounds, and determined he had veered off the path and into a tree. Paramedics performed emergency rescue efforts but later pronounced him dead at the scene.
This death followed the Feb. 12th death of an 18-year-old seasonal resort employee on Sugarbowl, also believed to have died after hitting a tree. Neither of the skiers was wearing a helmet.
On Monday, another death involved an off-duty ski area employee. The 31-year-old Idaho man was killed about noon in a snowboarding accident at the Stevens Pass Ski area. The accident happened in the Corona Bowl, which is part of the Mill Valley area on the back side of the ski area. The experienced snowboarder, also not wearing a helmet, fell and hit his head in an area of exposed rocks which resulted in loss of consciousness and ultimately his demise.
Tom Podivinsky, 48, was on vacation with his wife and children at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Podivinsky was skiing with a friend when they became separated around a little after noon on Sunday. When he failed to meet up with a group of people as planned, he was reported missing. He was found by ski patrol upside down in a tree well. Efforts to resuscitate him were not successful.
Late Monday afternoon, at Appalachian Ski Mountain, a youngster, said to be 12 to 13 years of age, was hurt after he skied into a tree, facial injuries noted by ski patrol. The young man was found unconscious, suffering a succession of seizures that might have come from the head injury he apparently suffered in the collision with a tree. Medics rushed him to the helipad at Watauga Medical Center for the flight to the Tennessee hospital where he was admitted.
Friends of 20-year-old Taylor Ogram notified Blue Mountains Resort staff around 11 p.m. Tuesday night after they couldn’t find him at the ski resort. Lifts shut down at 10pm. Ogram was found with life-threatening injuries in a forested area at approximately 1 a.m., and transferred to a hospital in Collingwood where he was pronounced dead. He evidently hit a tree.
Police say a skier was killed on the slopes at Stowe Tuesday. Ski patrol responded to a report of an injured skier just before 1 p.m. They found the man unresponsive and tried to revive him. He was later pronounced dead at the scene. Police identified the man as Roman Plonski, 30, of Brooklyn, N.Y. Investigators say it appears Plonski lost control on the Upper Gondolier trail and hit another skier before sliding into a trail sign. Police say the skier Plonski hit was a juvenile who suffered minor injuries.
A skier has died at Crystal Mountain after falling and suffocating in a tree well. The 35-year old skier became separated from his partner while skiing Wednesday afternoon. The partner notified the ski patrol which launched a search in the area. A ski patroller spotted some equipment near the base of a tree in the deep snow, and found the victim buried in a tree well. The victim was unresponsive, and the patroller could not revive him despite performing CPR.