Camper found dead in Mt. Bachelor lot

Heavy snow-removal equipment strikes man in sleeping bag

Keith Chu and Cindy Powers / The Bulletin /

Published Jan 28, 2006 at 04:00AM

An unidentified white male was struck by snow-removal equipment early Friday at Mt. Bachelor's West Village parking lot, and did not survive the accident.

The individual was apparently inside a sleeping bag, camping out in the lot at the time he was hit, said Carly Carmichael, Mt. Bachelor's director of marketing. A snow-removal equipment driver, unaware of the camper's presence, struck the individual while clearing the lot.

The victim's name is not being released until family members have been notified.

The accident took place just after 4 a.m., according to a news release from the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office.

”It was pitch black and snowing hard,” Carmichael said. ”We got three inches overnight so there's no telling if drifting was a factor.”

Carmichael would not disclose whether a snow plow or snow blower was involved in the accident. She confirmed that there were no vehicles or tents in the area where the individual was hit.

The person was alone at the time of the accident and was not inside a vehicle, according to Deschutes County Undersheriff Larry Blanton. The sheriff's office is conducting the death investigation.

”We are waiting to hear from the State Medical Examiner's Office before releasing information about the exact cause of death and positive identification,” Blanton said.

Under Oregon law, the State Medical Examiner's Office is required to conduct an investigation into accidental deaths.

Additional information regarding cause of death and identification of the deceased will likely be available next week, Blanton said.

Snow removal crews are required to drive the parking lots at Mt. Bachelor to check for obstacles or anything that might hinder their ability to do their job, according to Carmichael. Crews responsible for plowing on Friday followed those procedures, she said.

Joe Orcelletto and his dog, Colby, were skijoring on Friday afternoon in the parking lot, near where the incident occurred. Orcelletto, who saw law enforcement personnel there when he arrived around 8:30 a.m., said it's common knowledge that camping in the parking lot isn't allowed.

”To make an igloo or a cave out in the parking lot, that's crazy,” Orcelletto said.

Mt. Bachelor does not allow wintertime overnight camping in its parking lots, with the exception of recreational vehicles, according to Carmichael. She said those with RVs who want to camp overnight must get permission from resort officials.

The fatality coincided with Mt. Bachelor's busy ”Free Ski Day,” an annual event benefiting the Central Oregon Community Action Agency Network. The event attracted an estimated 7,000 people, Carmichael said, about twice the number of people that normally hit the slopes on Fridays.

By the time people began arriving, the area where the accident occurred had been cordoned off, Carmichael said. The incident did not affect daily operations at the ski area.

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