Snowboarder dies at Heavenly |

Snowboarder dies at Heavenly

An 18-year-old man from Fountain Valley, Calif., died Tuesday at Heavenly Mountain Resort after a snowboarding accident. The Douglas County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday identified the victim as Wyatt James Colvard. According to the sheriff's office, Colvard was found lying in the snow unconscious and having a difficult time breathing. Ski Patrol provided basic life support to Colvard and transported him down hill to awaiting Tahoe Douglas paramedics who began advanced life support care, but Colvard succumbed to his injuries. In a statement, Heavenly said that Colvard was found unresponsive about 11:30 a.m. in upper Nevada Woods, an expert area at the ski resort that is presently closed. Colvard was found to be wearing a helmet at the time of the incident, according to the resort. Preliminary findings of an autopsy indicate Colvard died from internal injuries from blunt force trauma, according to the sheriff's office. The incident remains under investigation.

South Tahoe Snowboad Series results

USASA South Tahoe Snowboard Series Season Opener at Kirkwood on Jan. 4. Giant Slalom (top 3) Open Class Women: 1, Amy Sage, Mammoth, 87.57; 2, Vanessa Lowe, South Lake Tahoe,148.92 Open Class Men: 1, Ari Giovenco, South Lake Tahoe, 73.24; 2, Peter Butcher, San Diego, 94.23; 3, Agustin Murguia, Mammoth, 109.62 Ruggie Girls (7 and under): 1, Julia Mason , Zephyr Cove, 191.26 Ruggie Boys (7 and under): 1, Nicholas Larsen, San bruno, 366.83 Grommet Girls (8 & 9): 1, Natasha Sagucka, South Lake Tahoe, 134.7 Grommet Boys (8-9): 1, Sammy Mason, Zephyr Cove, 95.92; 2, Mika Hight, Zephyr Cove, 99.53 Novice: 1, Jordan Laub, Glenbrook, 100.45; 2, Geoffrey Smith, Placerville, 115.12 Menehune Boys (10-11): 1, Harrison Kramer, South Lake Tahoe, 102.79; 2, Tanner Hart, South Lake Tahoe, 109.15; 3, Cody Horan, Placerville, 161.38 Breaker Girls (12-13): 1, Jamie Anderson, South Lake Tahoe, 92.61 Breaker Boys (12-13): 1, Roger Carver, Placerville, 79.52; 2, Micholas Poohachaoff, South Lake Tahoe, 81.65; 3, David Kapinos, Rohnert Park, 101.55 Youth Women (14-15): 1, Stacie Anderson, South Lake Tahoe, 88.41; 2, Elan Whitney, South Lake Tahoe, 92.86; 3, Colleen Sheehan, South Lake Tahoe, 99.57 Youth Men (14-15): 1, Ryan Bosson, South Lake Tahoe, 81.75; 2, Kevin Cain, Gardnerville, 81.97; 3, Ben Goldenberg, 82.52; Junior Women (16-17): 1, Joanie Anderson, South Lake Tahoe, 86.1; 2, Nicole Ricioli, South Lake Tahoe, 96.39; 3, Jacqueline Smith, Pollock Pines, 98.8 Junior Men (16-17): 1, Jesse Hall, Mt. Shasta, 81.99; 2, Jeff Kaczmar, South Lake Tahoe, 83.06; 3, Nickolay Dodov, Bear Valley, 85.52; Women Jams (18-22): 1, Tess Weathers, Mt. Shasta, 103.15; 2, Lena Jordan, Rescue, 113.4; 3, Christina Vu, El Dorado Hills, 131.77; Men Jams (18-22): 1, Jeremiah Ray, Jackson, 98.76 Senior Women (23-29): 1, Andrea Fotrova, Czech Republic, 118.51; 2, Karin Tuxen, Albany, 121.07 Senior Men (23-29): 1, Lee A. Breshears, Reno, 86.96 Master Women (30-39): 1, Nancy Ng, South Lake Tahoe, 108.89 Master Men (30-39): 1, Adam Neil, Zephyr Cove, 80.15; 2, Risley Sams, San Francisco, 82.64; 3, Benjamin Boussina, Greenbrae, 94.17 Legend Women (40-49): 1, Donna Vano, South Lake Tahoe, 104.81; 2, Zippy Neil, Zephyr Cove, 171.81 Legend Men (40-19): 1, Gordon Moncibais, Benicia, 133.68; 2, Tom Collins, Truckee, 155.01 Kahuna Men (50-59): 1, Len Winkler, Placerville, 112.47; 2, Herbert “Dick” Schulze, Palo Alto, 129.33 SLALOM Jan. 5 At Kirkwood Ski Resort Women Open Class 1. Joanie Anderson, Sierra-at-Tahoe, 81.12 seconds; 2. Vanessa Lowe, South Lake, 113.9. Jam’s (18-22) 1. Tess Weathers, Mount Shasta, Calif., 101.0; 2. Lena Jordan, Sierra-at-Tahoe, 112.75. Senior (23-29) 1. Karin Tuxen, Albany, Calif., 124.31. Master (30-39) 1. Nancy Ng, Sierra-at-Tahoe, 105.11; 2. Carol Anne Giustina, South Lake Tahoe, 133.71. Legend (40-49) 1. Donna Vano, Sierra-at-Tahoe, 105.77; 2. Zippy Neil, Zephyr Cove, 183.65. Girls Ruggie (7 and under) 1. Julia Mason, Heavenly, 170.65. Grommet (8-9) 1. Natasha Sagucks, Sierra-at-Tahoe, 139.88. Breaker (12-13) 1. Jamie Anderson, Sierra-at-Tahoe, 96.06. Youth (14-15) 1. Elan Whitney, South Lake Tahoe, 88.44; 2. Stacie Anderson, Sierra-at-tahoe, 88.85; 3. Colleen Sheehan, Heavenly, 89.32. Junior (16-17) 1. Katie Sheehan, Heavenly, 98.32; 2. Jacqueline Smith, Pollock Pines, Calif., 98.64; 3. Melissa Anino, Heavenly, 126.24. Note: Nicole Ricioli, Sierra, total time not listed Men Open Class 1. Ario Giovenco, Heavenly Snowboard Foundation, 71.31; 2. Agustin Murgula, Mammoth Lakes, 89.11. Jam’s (18-22) 1. Justin Alcantara, Zephyr Cove, 93.47; 2. Tyler Summers, Yreka, Calif., 100.93; 3. Jeremiah Ray, Jackson, Calif., 122.16. Master (30-39) 1. Adam Neil, Zephyr Cove, 82.05; 2. Risley Sams, San Francisco, 85.52; 3. Mick Connolly, Twaine Harte, Calif., 100.94. Legend (40-49) 1. Tom Goldenberg, South Lake Tahoe, 132.29. Kahuna (50-59) 1. Herbert Schulze, Palo Alto, Calif., 168.74. Boys Grommet (8-9) 1. Sammy Mason, Heavenly, 93.13; 2. Mika Hight, Heavenly, 98.19; 3. Jordan Laub, Heavenly, 106.53; 4. Geoffrey Smith, Placerville, 160.37. Menehune (10-11) 1. Tanner Hart, Heavenly, 97.37; 2. Harrison Kramer, South Lake Tahoe, 98.22. Breaker (12-13) 1. Roger Carver, Heavenly, 73.77; 2. Nicholas Poohachoff, Heavenly, 79.89; 3. Aaron Orlick, Carson City, 89.91; 4. Chad Cooney, South Lake Tahoe, 99.67; 5. Jack Lyle, South Lake Tahoe, 106.75; 6. Chase Hart, Heavenly, 107.25. Youth (14-15) 1. Greg Dupree, Heavenly, 74.46; 2. Ryan Bosson, Heavenly, 75.01; 3. Ben Goldenberg, Heavenly, 75.99; 4. Abe Greenspan, Heavenly, 78.62; 5. Brian Galea, Heavenly, 80.04; 6. Kevin Cain, Heavenly, 84.05; 7. Casey Weathers, Mount Shasta, 89.65; 8. Aaron Laub, Heavenly, 101.37; 9. John Retta, Martinez, Calif., 103.97; 10. Russell Kaczmar, South Lake Tahoe, 113.33; 11. Cory Mitchelson, Sierra, 130.61. Junior (16-17) 1. Jesse Hall, Mount Shasta, Calif., 74.98; 2. Nickolay Dodov, Sierra-at-Tahoe, 93.06; 4. Jeff Kaczmar, Heavenly, 121.99.

Clock ticking on judicial appointment

Gardnerville, Nev. — While no deadline exists for the governor to appoint a new judge for the Ninth Judicial District, Friday will be 30 calendar days since he received the names of the three nominees. That's important because if he doesn't make an appointment to the seat in 30 days, he may make no other appointments to public office until he does, according to Supreme Court spokesman Michael Sommermeyer. The three candidates include Genoan Tom Gregory, Carson City resident David Sarnowski and Reno resident Douglas Rands. Gov. Brian Sandoval has the final decision on which of the three will replace Michael Gibbons, who was selected to serve on Nevada's first court of appeals. The Nevada Commission on Judicial Selection made its choice out of 13 attorneys on Feb. 25. In order to be considered, attorneys had to have two years of residency in the state and 10 years of legal experience. There is no requirement that applicants live in Douglas County, but anyone selected would have to move here in order to stand for election. For applicants biographies, visit Retired District Judge Dave Gamble has been serving in the seat since Gibbons was appointed.

USDA loan offered to low-income buyers in rural Nevada counties

The United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development still has about $2.8 million in Direct Home Loan funding available for rural low-income homebuyers, according to a press release. USDA urges those who are interested to act quickly before the fiscal year ends. "If you were wondering whether you can afford to buy a home, check with us and see if you qualify, it cannot hurt to check it out," Jeff Glass, the housing program director for USDA Rural Development in Nevada, said in the press release. The Direct 502 Home Loan Program is available in all areas of the state except Carson City and metropolitan Clark and Washoe counties. Applicants will work with a loan specialist at a regional office who will ask for a completed qualification form. If eligible, applicants will be provided with an eligibility certificate that qualifies them with a set loan amount and interest rate. The qualification is a two-page form available from the agency's rural office staff in Elko, Fallon and Las Vegas. In northeast Nevada, call Brad Gallimore at 775-748-8468, ext. 104, in central Nevada call Betty Percifield at 775-423-5124, ext. 100, and in southern Nevada call Elias Askins at 702-407-1400, ext. 113. To qualify, median household income must be below 80 percent for the county where the homebuyer lives. Dependable and steady income from employment, a pension or Social Security is required.

Vail picks Sonntag to head Heavenly

Vail Resorts, Inc. has selected Vail Ski and Snowboard School Director Pete Sonntag as the new vice president and general manager of Heavenly Mountain Resort, according to a Thursday announcement. Sonntag replaces Heavenly Chief Operating Officer Blaise Carrig, who was promoted to co-president of Vail’s Mountain Division in January 2008. Carrig oversees Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly resorts. Sonntag, who will begin working as Heavenly’s general manager Aug. 1, oversaw a staff of more than 1,200 employees as director of the Vail Snowsports School since 2009, according to Thursday’s announcement. He has previously served as the ski and snowboard school director at Beaver Creek Resort and Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado. Sonntag has also served as the director of skier services at Keystone Resort and serves on the board of directors of the Beaver Creek Interfaith Chapel. “I’m thrilled to have someone with Pete’s track record in developing innovative on-mountain programming, delivering extraordinary guest experiences and driving revenue growth through the lines of business lead the Heavenly team,” Carrig said in the announcement. “His years of experience at Vail, Beaver Creek and Keystone bring the knowledge and strategic thinking in creating a complete resort experience, both on and off the mountain. I am confident that under Pete’s leadership, we will continue to drive performance and growth for Heavenly in the future.” Sonntag’s appointment as Heavenly’s general manager was one of several changes to senior leadership at Vail announced Thursday. Keystone Resort Chief Operating Officer Doug Lovell has been named vice president and chief operating officer of Beaver Creek Resort and John Buhler, director of skier services for Breckenridge, has been promoted to vice president and general manager of Keystone Resort. The moves will give Carrig and John Garnsey, also a co-president of Vail’s Mountain Division, greater strategic responsibilities that will better position the resort company for growth within its existing resorts and the pursuit of new opportunities, according to the statement.

Heavenly children’s ski school employee charged with exploitation and possession of child pornography

An employee with Heavenly Mountain Resort children's ski school was charged Wednesday with child exploitation and possession of child pornography, the U.S. Attorney District of Nevada Office announced. Stephan L. DeGraffenreid, 26, of Gardnerville, was charged with one count of sexual exploitation of a child, two counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a child, and one count of possession of child pornography, according to a press release from Steven Myhre, acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada. The mandatory statutory minimum penalty if convicted is 15 years in prison for each of the sexual exploitation and attempted sexual exploitation charges. Citing a criminal complaint, the attorney’s office states law enforcement discovered child pornography on an Apple iPod Touch found at the children's ski school at Heavenly Mountain Resort. Law enforcement learned the iPod belonged to DeGraffenreid, who was an employee at the children's ski school. Officers located a thumb drive at DeGraffenreid’s residence containing explicit images of children in a Gardnerville daycare facility restroom. He admitted to downloading and possessing the child pornography, according to the press release. Asked for comment, Kevin “Coop” Cooper, senior communications manager for Heavenly, sent the following message: “We terminated Mr. DeGraffenreid from the Heavenly Ski Resort immediately upon learning of the investigation by the authorities. We have no reason to believe that the alleged activity has any connection to Heavenly Ski Resort or its guests. The alleged activity is abhorrent to everything that our resort stands for and we remain available to cooperate with the authorities in their investigation, if requested.” The case is being investigated by the FBI, the Washoe County Sheriff's Office, and the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Shannon M. Bryant is prosecuting the case. This story was updated to include comment from a Heavenly spokesperson.

Skier rescued after ducking rope at Heavenly

Search and rescue volunteers were able to locate a skier who apparently ducked a rope at Heavenly Mountain Resort Wednesday and became stuck in the Cold Creek drainage. El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue personnel began the search after receiving a report from Glendale, Calif. resident Vahe Saradjian, 62. Saradjian said he went under the resort’s boundary near the Powderbowl Express chairlift and became disoriented, according to Thursday statement from the Sheriff’s Office. A lack of snow led to Saradjian being unable to navigate the terrain, according to the statement. He was not prepared for an overnight stay in the wilderness. Saradjian’s location was confirmed when he called 911 and his coordinates were provided by his cell phone provider, according to the Sheriff’s Office. A California Highway Patrol helicopter was dispatched and located Saradjian about 6:20 p.m. next to a lit campfire. Search and rescue volunteers made contact with him about 7:15 p.m. and assisted him to safety. Ski resort management will revoke Saradjian’s skiing privileges at Heavenly because he went under a marked boundary, according to the statement.

California home foreclosures climb as risky loans sour

SAN DIEGO – Foreclosure proceedings against California homeowners jumped by more than 140 percent in the first quarter, the result of risky loans during boom times, a real estate research firm said Tuesday. At the same time, the number of homes lost to foreclosure also reached levels not seen since at least the 1980s, according to DataQuick Information Systems. Lenders sent homeowners 113,676 default notices from January through March, up 143.1 percent from 46,760 during the same period of 2007 and up 39.4 percent from 81,550 during the last three months of 2007. The first quarter numbers marked the highest foreclosure level since DataQuick began keeping track in 1992. Default notices mark the first step in the foreclosure process. Trustee deeds – which represent loss of a home to foreclosure – totaled 47,171 during the first quarter, up 327.6 percent from 11,032 during the same period of 2007 and up 48.9 percent from 31,676 during the previous three months. It marked the highest level of trustee deeds since DataQuick began keeping track in 1988 and was more than triple the number during the nadir of the previous cycle in 1996. The foreclosure activity also reflects a drop in home values, as owners in a financial pinch were unable to sell properties to cover payments, said DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage. Most loans that went into default originated between August 2005 and October 2006, according to DataQuick, which said the market was shaking off its ” ‘loans-gone-wild’ activity” during that time. The median age of a defaulted loan was 23 months. Homeowners in default now are more likely to lose their homes, according to DataQuick. Only 32 percent receiving default notices prevented foreclosure by catching up on payments. A year earlier, 52 percent of those in default were able to avoid foreclosure. Many homes were financed with multiple loans, which makes it more difficult for homeowners to escape foreclosure. As a result, the 113,676 default notices sent in the first quarter were recorded on 110,392 residences. The numbers are the latest indication of how badly California has been hit by foreclosures, a result of many homeowners taking loans that their incomes could not afford. The state ranks only behind Nevada – and just ahead of Florida, Arizona and Colorado – in the percentage of households in foreclosure in March, according to RealtyTrac, a research firm. The foreclosure glut has depressed housing prices overall. Some analysts expect it will worsen as low, introductory interest rates expire on other loans that originated in 2005 and 2006. One of every three resale homes sold in California from January through March had been foreclosed at some point during the previous year, up from 3.2 percent a year earlier, DataQuick said. In San Joaquin County, foreclosures accounted for two of every three homes that were resold. In San Francisco County, they made up only 5.1 percent. Mortgages were most likely to go into default in the central California counties of San Joaquin, Merced and Stanislaus, DataQuick said. They were least likely to go into default in the San Francisco Bay area counties of San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo.

Stateline man dies after falling from chairlift

A 19-year-old Stateline man is dead after falling 30 feet from the Dipper Express chairlift at Heavenly Mountain resort today, according to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office. Ryan Donald Moore fell from the chairlift about 11:30 a.m. after leaning forward to care for a leg cramp, according to a press release from Heavenly Mountain Resort. The restraining bar on the chairlift was not engaged, the resort said. Moore was accompanied on the chairlift by another rider, according to the sheriff’s office. “By all appearances, this was an accident,” said El Dorado County Sheriff’s Lt. Les Lovell. One engine company and a medical unit from Tahoe Douglas Fire Department responded to the scene. Moore suffered major trauma from the fall and was airlifted by CALSTAR to Barton Memorial Hospital, the sheriff’s office said. Additional life-saving measures were unsuccessful. Moore was pronounced dead around 12:46 p.m. Moore was originally from Santa Ynez and was living in Stateline with roommates, Lovell said.

Former ski school employee charged with child porn pleads not guilty

After an iPod containing images of child pornography was discovered at Heavenly Mountain Resort in 2015, various law enforcement agencies spent the two years locating the owner and building their case. That work culminated Wednesday when a grand jury handed down an indictment for one count of sexual exploitation of a child, two counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a child, and one count of possession of child pornography. The man indicted, Stephan L. DeGraffenreid, a 26-year-old resident of Gardnerville and former employee at the children's ski school at Heavenly, pleaded not guilty to all four charges Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Reno. His lawyer, David Houston, withdrew a motion he filed earlier in the day requesting permission to submit a psychological examination of DeGraffenreid under seal. Houston said after the hearing he had no immediate comment but intends to file additional documents before the bail hearing. According to law enforcement, none of the alleged crimes took place at Heavenly, which itself denounced the actions in a statement Wednesday. "We terminated Mr. DeGraffenreid from the Heavenly Ski Resort immediately upon learning of the investigation by the authorities," Kevin "Coop" Cooper, senior communications manager for Heavenly, said in an email. "We have no reason to believe that the alleged activity has any connection to Heavenly Ski Resort or its guests. The alleged activity is abhorrent to everything that our resort stands for and we remain available to cooperate with the authorities in their investigation, if requested." Earlier case stalls The criminal complaint filed March 30 details the investigation that led to DeGraffenreid, who was first sought in 2011 when Microsoft alerted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that 106 images of child pornography had been uploaded to an account traced back to DeGraffenreid, according to the affidavit contained in the complaint. Attempts to locate DeGraffenreid in 2011 were unsuccessful — effectively closing the case pending further information. About three and a half years later, the El Dorado Sheriff's Office was alerted about an iPod found at Heavenly. The employee who found the device handed it over to a security officer, who attempted to find the owner's information. Instead they found "many images of prepubescent nude females in sexually explicit poses." Security eventually found the owner's name, which was different than DeGraffenreid. Despite having a different name for the owner, DeGraffenreid's name and phone number were listed in the contact information. The sheriff's office obtained a search warrant for the iPod and found three contacts, one of whom was DeGraffenreid. His email address matched the same one provided by Microsoft in 2011. A little more than one year after the iPod had been found, a detective with the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office called DeGraffenreid at a phone number provided by Heavenly. After he described the iPod, DeGraffenreid was informed pornography had been found, which caused him to sound nervous, according to the affidavit. The El Dorado Sheriff's Office, citing a policy that defers to the prosecuting agency in terms of what information gets released, would not comment on why it took a year to contact DeGraffenreid. The FBI was alerted at that point in the investigation and the sheriff's office asked the Washoe County Sheriff's Office to conduct an additional forensic exam. More files found Law enforcement eventually found an address for DeGraffenreid and a search warrant was executed on Jan. 26. Upon executing the search, DeGraffenreid informed law enforcement of a thumb drive hidden in his bedroom. It contained multiple pornographic images of children under the age of 5. Investigators discovered the images had been secretly taken in a bathroom at a Gardnerville day care center. During a subsequent interview, DeGraffenreid, according to the affidavit, admitted to downloading and possessing child pornography. Assistant U.S. Attorney Shannon M. Bryant, who is prosecuting the case, declined comment Thursday when called by the Tribune. Citing Justice Department policies, he directed questions to a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney District of Nevada Office, who said the attorney's office does not comment beyond what is released in public documents and proceedings. On Thursday a federal magistrate set a hearing for April 18 to determine whether DeGraffenreid should continue to be held without bail until a trial set for June 13. The Associated Press contributed to this report.