Cause of Steamboat skier’s death asphyxiation, coroner says
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Frank Maimone died Saturday, Feb. 8, as a result of asphyxiation due to a headfirst fall into a tree well while skiing at Steamboat Resort, according to Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg.
There was no trauma to his body, Ryg said.
The 53-year-old man from Philadelphia was discovered unresponsive at approximately 3:25 p.m. at the bottom of Shadow Glades, according to Loryn Duke, director of communications for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.
Steamboat Ski Patrol was on scene at approximately 3:30 p.m., she said, and advanced life support was administered all the way to UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs, where Maimone was pronounced dead.
It is hard to determine how long he was in the tree well, Ryg said, or the exact time of death.
Duke was not able to provide information about whether Mamione was skiing alone or who first discovered him.
Mamione’s death is the first ski-related death at the resort this season, Duke said.
Tree well safety
According to the National Association of Ski Areas, a deep snow, or tree well immersion accident, occurs when a skier or rider falls into an area of deep unconsolidated snow, becomes immobilized and suffocates.
The resort has received 42 inches of new snowfall since an intense snowstorm hit the area Thursday, Feb. 6.
Here are tips for skier and boarders to follow when skiing in areas of deep powder around trees. The information was compiled from Steamboat Resort and Colorado Ski Country.
- Often, a skier or snowboarder falls into the tree well headfirst.
- You should avoid skiing or riding close to the base of trees if possible, especially in deep snow or windblown snow conditions.
- If you begin to fall into a tree well, try and grab onto the tree or a branch to prevent yourself from falling further into the tree well.
- If you cannot prevent yourself from falling in, try to roll over and to stay upright instead of head down as you fall.
- Try to keep your arm above your head to create an air pocket. Use a rocking or wiggling motion to try and create more space and move towards an upright position.
- If skiing/riding in deep snow or near trees, stay with a partner and remain in visual contact.
- Stay close enough to either pull or dig out your partner.
- If your partner becomes immersed, first try to clear an airway, then call Steamboat Ski Patrol, 970-871-5911.
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