Keystone Medical Center handled bad news of fatal avalanche with sensitivity; another lesson learned |

Keystone Medical Center handled bad news of fatal avalanche with sensitivity; another lesson learned

This letter is to thank the individuals at the Keystone Medical Center who assisted us the other night.

On March 20, we heard the news our friends had been involved in a slide at the Rock Garden. Rumors and speculation circulated as we frantically called people and agencies to find out their condition.

At the time, we believed that all the skiers had come out of it – if not entirely intact, thankfully, alive. Having no concrete information from anyone, we arrived at the Keystone Medical Center in search of our friends.

At the medical center, we were met by a caring group of professionals who had the hard task of explaining to us that our friend, Kenneth Carl “KC” Ratcliff, had not survived the avalanche. The individuals who attended to us were sympathetic and caring, trusting us with the sensitive information of our friend’s death, giving us time and space to reach out to one another and say our goodbyes to KC.

Their accommodation of us – which must be how others are treated – and their concern means a great deal to us all. Thank you.

Everyone who spoke to us seemed to understand the tragedy of our loss. We know KC died doing something he loved. We are so thankful for the safety of our other friends and hope for Russ’ speedy recovery.

We wish they had not been out there that day with the high avalanche danger and that KC did not serve as a reminder that no matter how much backcountry experience, awareness and knowledge we have, ultimately, we cannot predict Mother Nature. KC is too high a price for that. Too painful a reminder.

We also would like to thank the entire rescue team that worked to bring these guys back to their friends and family. Our hope is that more people consider the consequences of getting trapped in avalanches during this time and wait for conditions to settle before venturing into the backcountry.

Having said that, we also hope to celebrate KC’s memory and the safety of the other skiers by getting out there and grinning through the face shots.

We hope that for KC those last turns were among the best.

Our hearts go out to KC’s family.

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