TACOMA -- The Pierce County Medical Examiner's Office on Thursday identified the skier who died a day earlier on Crystal Mountain as Loren Miller, 32, of Seattle. It listed the cause of death as asphyxiation from snow immersion suffocation.
A tree well/snow immersion suffocation accident happens when a skier or snowboarder falls – usually headfirst – into a tree well or deep loose snow and becomes immobilized and trapped under the snow and suffocates.
The Crystal Mountain Resort said the man was reported missing by a ski partner at 2:25 p.m. Wednesday. He had last been seen at about 1 p.m. in an area called Dick's Face.
A member of the ski patrol who was searching for the missing man identified some ski equipment near the base of a tree at about 2:30 p.m. The patrol member dug out the victim and began CPR, but it was unsuccessful. "It appears the victim died from snow immersion suffocation," the resort said.
Crystal Mountain Resort received 19 inches of snow in the past 24 hours, and a total of 94 inches in the past nine days, the resort said Wednesday afternoon.
“This serves as an unfortunate and sad reminder of how important it is to ski and ride with a partner, and keep them in sight, especially where there’s a lot of new and unsettled snow,” said Paul Baugher, Ski Patrol director.
SIS & tree well safety website: http://www.deepsnowsafety.org/index.php/