A skier died after falling into a tree well at Mt. Bachelor ski area on Friday, the ski area announced. It is the third tree well death on the mountain in the last 12 months.
The male skier was unresponsive when he was found in a tree well about 2:50 p.m. in an area just west of Sparks Lake Run, according to Drew Jackson, a spokesman for the ski area. Ski patrol members performed CPR and could not revive the man, whose name and age were not released. The area where the man was found is considered an experts-only area off the Northwest chair lift, Jackson said.
The skier’s death Friday occurred almost exactly a year after two people were killed on the same day when they fell into tree wells at Mt. Bachelor. On March 2, 2018 a 24-year-old snowboarder, Alfonso Braun, of Bend, and a 19-year-old skier, Nicole Panet-Raymond, of Portland, died in tree wells on the mountain.
The separate accidents were the first time someone had died that way at Mt. Bachelor since 2002.
“All of us at Mt. Bachelor are heartbroken by the loss felt at the mountain today,” John McLeod, president and general manager of the ski area, said Friday. “Our deepest condolences go out to the affected families and friends.”
Tree wells are hidden cavities of deep snow that form when low-hanging branches block snowflakes from compacting in the space around tree trunks. Skiers who venture close to trees can fall in, usually headfirst, and quickly suffocate — just like drowning in water.
Mt. Bachelor has a tree well warning on its website that reminds people not to ski or snowboard alone in deep powder and always turn away from trees on the slopes.
Last month, tree wells claimed two lives at other Oregon ski resorts. A 42-year-old man at Timberline Lodge, and a 23-year-old ski patrol member at Mt. Ashland were skiing and died when they fell into tree wells.
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