Skier dies after Vail Mountain fall |

Skier dies after Vail Mountain fall

Matt Zalaznick

A deadly season

Eleven people have died in trauma-related ski accidents in Colorado this season, one less than the record of 12 deaths, which occurred during the 1988-1989 ski season.

Depending on the outcome of a coroner’s determination, the Tuesday death of Texas resident Wayne Rust could bring the season’s fatality count to 12.

VAIL – A 43-year-old skier from Texas died Tuesday morning after he was found lying unconscious in the woods off an intermediate run in Vail Mountain’s Game Creek Bowl.

And though the skier appears to have hit a tree, it’s not yet clear if that caused his death, said Eagle County Coroner Donna Barnes. The man, David Wayne Rust of Irving, Texas, was clinging to life when a ski patroller found him around 9:30 a.m. Rust was lying in the trees off The Woods ski run, Barnes said.

“He was found unresponsive and not breathing,” Barnes said. “We don’t know what happened, and we’re not going to speculate.”

No one saw Rust fall, but minor facial abrasions indicate he hit a tree, she said.

“It’s not obvious because it’s only small abrasions,” Barnes said, adding that a skier with minor facial abrasions still could have suffered a life-threatening head injury.

An autopsy that will show whether Rust died of a medical condition or trauma from colliding with a tree should be completed today or Thursday, Barnes said.

“This is an unfortunate tragedy that affects all of us, and our hearts and our thoughts are with his family,” said Vail Mountain spokeswoman Jen Brown.

Ski patrollers performed CPR on Rust, and used defibrillators that deliver electric shocks to the heart, in an attempt to revive him. He was taken down Vail Mountain and pronounced dead at Vail Valley Medical Center at 10:25 a.m., Barnes said.

Rust, who was visiting Vail with his wife and another couple, apparently got separated from his skiing companion. But since it was not unusual for Rust to ski alone, his friend was not alarmed, Barnes said.

Rust ran an air-conditioning business in Texas, Barnes said.

Barring the determination of a cause in Rust’s death, there have not been any trauma-related deaths at either Vail or Beaver Creek Mountain this season.

Rust was the second person, however, to die while skiing on Vail Mountain since the slopes opened in November. Edward Merry, a 56-year-old skier from Bloomington, Indiana, died Dec. 11 from an apparent heart attack suffered while skiing down Ricky’s Ridge, a black diamond run in Vail Mountain’s Sun Down Bowl.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User