Alpine Meadows ski patroller caught in slide dies
December 25, 2012
TAHOE/TRUCKEE – Two local men died from injuries suffered in avalanches that occurred Monday at two Tahoe-area ski resorts, a day after a major storm system dumped more than 4 feet of heavy snow throughout the basin.
Bill Foster, 53, a veteran ski patroller at Alpine Meadows ski resort, died Tuesday at Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno after he was found buried in an explosive-triggered avalanche there on Monday, the resort confirmed late Tuesday.
“Bill was one of Alpine Meadows’ very best and most experienced professional ski patrollers,” resort spokeswoman Amelia Richmond said in a statement. “Our deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers continue to be with Bill’s wife and all of their family and friends.”
Foster was caught in the slide at about 10:45 a.m. Monday in the resort’s Sherwood Bowl area; he was part of a team of patrollers performing routine snow safety in the area, which was closed to the public at the time, Richmond said.
“The avalanche was triggered by an explosive charge that had been thrown by a senior member of the ski patrol team,” Richmond said. “The patrol team members were positioned in an area that was, based on historical experience, believed to have been a protected area. The … avalanche broke much higher and wider on the slope than previously observed in past snow safety missions.”
Foster was found within one minute and uncovered within eight minutes of the slide, Richmond said. Ski patrol quickly initiated CPR, and Foster was transported to an ambulance and then air-lifted by CareFlight helicopter to Renown.
Foster had 28 years of experience on Alpine Meadows’ professional ski patrol, Richmond said, and he routinely performed snow safety in the area.
On Monday afternoon, search teams at Donner Ski Ranch recovered the body of 49-year-old Steven Mark Anderson, of Hirschdale, who died after being swept away in an avalanche, according to the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office.
A man called NCSO shortly after noon Monday, saying Anderson had not returned as planned while snowboarding that morning at the resort, and he feared Anderson may have been caught up in the avalanche that occurred sometime around 9:30 a.m., said Sgt. Bob Jakobs.
Surrounding ski resorts were called to help search for Anderson as Nevada County deputies and rescue crews began to comb the resort.
At approximately 1:30 p.m., a Sugar Bowl Ski Patrol canine alerted crews to an area at the base of the slide’s debris field, Jakobs said. Anderson’s body was located approximately 2 to 3 feet under the snow where the canine had alerted.
No one else was hurt in the incident, said resort officials, who labeled the avalanche as a moderate one that slid between Ski Ranch lifts 1 and 6. The area was closed off for the rest of Monday.
Two people suffered non-life threatening injuries after three snowboarders triggered an avalanche at 9:50 a.m. Sunday on a portion of the KT-22 peak at Squaw Valley ski resort, Richmond said in a statement.
A ski patroller riding the lift line, along with witnesses, “immediately” reported the slide, Richmond said, and several ski patrollers were on scene within one minute to aid both conscious skiers, neither of whom were buried by the snow.
One skier, a 39-year-old female, was transported and released from the resort’s medical clinic, Richmond said, while the second skier, a 16-year-old male, was treated for a shoulder injury, and then transported to Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee for further observation.
No one else was hurt, Richmond said.
“The resort immediately initiated a full search to confirm there were no additional people involved,” said Richmond, adding that more than 100 staff and volunteers, along with seven avalanche rescue dogs, took part in the search that ended at 11:50 a.m.
– Christopher Rosacker of The Union, the Sun’s sister paper in Grass Valley, contributed to this report.