Two dead, one injured after weekend Sierra Nevada snow

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 19, 2012 5:13 PM

By Emmett Berg

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A skier and a snowboarder died and another person was injured in separate incidents at resorts across the Sierra Nevada mountains over the weekend after the area was hit by the biggest storm this winter, authorities said.

One man, 54-year-old Yiwei Hu, fell and became trapped in a deep hole created by an underflow of water at a ski resort near Lake Tahoe, the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Hu had been skiing alone in an experts-only area of the Sierra-at-Tahoe resort and was not breathing when he was found on Sunday afternoon, the sheriff's office said.

Ski patrollers were not able to revive him and he was pronounced dead at the scene. Also on Sunday afternoon, a snowboarder died after being found buried head-first on an expert run at a ski resort northeast of Fresno, said Rich Bailey, mountain manager at the China Peak Mountain Resort.

Two skiers saw the base of a snowboard sticking out and dug out a 30-year-old man, according to Bailey. The man had apparently been traversing around cliffs and fell.

Paramedics later pronounced the man, whose identity has not been released, dead in the resort's first aid room. "We've had four to five feet of snow in the last three days," Bailey said. "Everybody has pent-up fever for the steep and deep, but we counsel to always ski with a buddy, always ride with a buddy. This was a tragedy."

As much as five feet of snow was reported last week at multiple locations in the Sierra Nevada mountains, according to Johnnie Powell, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

"It was a classic winter storm, the wettest of the year in a very dry year," Powell said. An avalanche on Sunday at a ski resort near Lake Tahoe surrounded two skiers, one of whom was injured and transported to a hospital, according to Kirkwood Mountain Resort spokesman Michael Dalvell.

Backcountry skiers also reported triggering multiple snow slides, called "sluffs," on Lake Tahoe-area peaks Tamarack and Hidden on Sunday, though no injuries were reported, according to the Sierra Avalanche Center.

Avalanche danger was moderate on Monday, with pockets of increased danger around slopes loaded with snow by wind and recent storms, said Andy Anderson, a forecaster for the Tahoe National Forest.

"Even though avalanches may be more difficult to trigger today, huge, dangerous deep slab avalanches with serious consequences remain possible," Anderson wrote in a report. Another round of storms in the region are expected later this week.

(Editing by Mary Slosson and Greg McCune)