William Ferchland

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April 7, 2006
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Skier's passion was family first: David Koskin is the second fatality at Heavenly in a week

David Michael Koskin loved to ski. His passion, second only to his family, resulted in his death when he struck a tree while skiing at Heavenly Mountain Resort on Friday morning.

Koskin, 43, apparently caught an edge, slipped on some ice and struck a tree on Heavenly's Meteor Trail at 9:44 a.m., authorities and people at the scene said.

The father of two teenagers and Stateline resident was skiing with about a dozen people, including his wife, Tracy, at the resort where he learned to ski when he was around 9 years old.

"We're all up here in quite a bit of shock," Tracy Koskin said Friday afternoon.

David Koskin was the second skiing-related death at Heavenly Mountain Resort last week. On Wednesday a 68-year-old Wisconsin man fell down and hit his head on the groomed Dipper Knob Trail at 10 a.m., according to Heavenly spokesman Russ Pecoraro. Ski patrol personnel administered care and the man was transported to Washoe Medical Center in Reno by a Care Flight helicopter, Pecoraro said.

Pecoraro said the man, who spent winters in South Lake Tahoe, was pronounced dead Friday morning.

The Washoe County coroner's office on Sunday identified the man as James Walters.

Friday marked David Koskin's 49th day skiing for the 2005-06 season, his wife said, adding that Koskin's goal was to ski more times than his age.

Tracy Koskin believed it wasn't her husband's intent to head into a wooded area.

"I don't think he wanted to go in the trees," she said. "I think he lost control."

Douglas County sheriff's Lt. Keith Logan said David Koskin likely died due to head trauma. An autopsy was scheduled for Saturday.

Ski patrollers gave David Koskin CPR while he was being transported to Heavenly's Stagecoach base. He was pronounced dead by the Douglas County coroner at Stagecoach at 10:45 a.m.

"There was a whole fleet of (ski patrollers)," Tracy Koskin said.

Numerous sources said Koskin wasn't wearing a helmet. Bernie Frausto, a friend of David Koskin for 22 years, said, "I don't think that would have helped him."

Koskin grew up in Santa Barbara but his family had a house in South Lake Tahoe, according to his father, Carl Koskin. Santa Barbara is where he met his high school sweetheart, Tracy, and they have been married for 15 years.

David Koskin was a night shift manager for Raley's Supermarket near Stateline, where he worked since 1989. Store Director Bill Lavelle said David Koskin was a valued employee in charge of replenishing and ordering inventory and who had a well-known saying of "We got 'er all done, boss."

Karl Koskin said his son, the youngest of three boys in the family and fourth overall youngest among five siblings, was an expert skier who has traveled to resorts like Vail, Sun Valley, Mt. Bachelor, Jackson Hole and Park City.

Karl remembered when he first took his son skiing at Heavenly, when David was about 9 years old. Despite being on skis for the first time, young Koskin went down Heavenly's face.

"He hung in there and loved it from there on," Karl Koskin said.

"Things happen I guess but he loved skiing," he added.

Besides skiing, David Koskin was known for his love for golf, camping and the outdoors. Tracy Koskin said a trailer was already packed for an upcoming camping and golf trip to Santa Barbara.

But his overall love was reserved for his family.

"He lived for his family," Frausto said. "He lived for his children."

Friday's conditions at the mountain were described as machine-groomed and skier-tracked snow.

Pecoraro, Heavenly's spokesman, said the two skier-related deaths were the first of the season for the resort.

"You hate to see these sort of things and having them so close together, it's really a fluke, albeit a really sad one," he said.

Logan of the sheriff's department referred to Thursday's deaths of three ski patrollers at Mammoth Mountain when attributing the attempts of Heavenly patrollers in their work.

"Certainly my heart and respect goes out to them for all that they do," he said.

The South Shore has posted two skier-related fatalities this season. And Northstar has had three fatal skier and snowboarder accidents in the past weeks, bringing the total to six deaths at the North Shore ski resort, which excludes one heart attack victim. Mammoth has had four ski- and snowboard-related deaths this year which doesn't include ski patroller deaths.

Sierra-at-Tahoe Spokeswoman Nicole Belt is thankful the resort has not had to deal with such issues this year.

"We've been fortunate in that regard," she said.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Apr 10, 2006 04:46AM Published Apr 7, 2006 12:00AM Copyright 2006 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.