Skier dies at Steamboat Resort after falling in tree well
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A 53-year-old skier from Philadelphia died after falling headfirst into a tree well on Shadows, a black diamond tree run at Steamboat Resort, on Saturday afternoon, according to Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg.
The man, identified as Frank Maimone, was found around 2:30 p.m., Ryg said. Steamboat Ski Patrol performed CPR and continued to perform CPR all the way to UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs, where the man died, Ryg said.
An autopsy report will be released Monday, Ryg said. There wasn’t any visible trauma, he said, but it isn’t known at this time whether the man suffered any trauma, and no cause of death has been identified at this time.
As of 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. had not returned a call requesting more information about the incident.
The resort has received 38 inches of new snowfall since an intense snow storm hit the area Thursday.
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. These deaths are referred to as snow immersion suffocation.
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.
- 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.
- Be aware of deep snow conditions, tree wells and other natural and man-made obstacles. Do not ski/ride too close to trees in deep or windblown snow conditions.
- 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.
Read more about skier deaths in Colorado in our in-depth three-part series.
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