College student killed descending Tallac |

College student killed descending Tallac

Jeff Munson

A 20-year-old UC Santa Cruz student slid about 600 feet to his death Monday on the east side of Mount Tallac.

Ian Carney, an outdoor enthusiast and art student with aspirations to become an architect, was apparently sliding down the face of the mountain with a friend when he lost control, hitting his head on a rock, authorities said.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department initiated a full-scale search and rescue for Carney, involving 10 personnel including a paramedic from Lake Valley Fire Department and a California Highway Patrol helicopter.

The accident was reported to authorities shortly after 9 a.m. by friend Justin Smith, also of Santa Cruz, who used a cell phone to call for help.

The two spent Sunday night snow camping in a tree well near the summit of Tallac. When they woke on Monday morning, their plan was to slide down the mountain on their rear ends, known as glissading, using ski poles as a means to slow themselves down during the slide.

“They were making their way back to the car after spending the night camping. Carney began glissading and couldn’t stop. He accelerated and lost control, and slid into a rock where he suffered massive head trauma,” said Deputy Mike Sukau, search and rescue coordinator for the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office.

Smith found Carney unconscious next to the rock, called 911 and began CPR to attempt to resuscitate him. The crew of the CHP helicopter located them.

Paramedics pronounced Carney dead at the scene. El Dorado County Sheriff’s department assisted in the removal of the body. The case is under investigation.

Sukau recalled a similar incident about five years ago in which a cross country skier lost control and fell to his death down the side of the 9,735- foot mountain.

Hiking, snowshoeing and snowboarding are popular recreation activities on Tallac during winter. Icy conditions on the mountain, however, may have contributed to Carney’s loss of control.

“Our search and rescue teams saw tracks of what these two were apparently doing but (glissading) it is not typical recreation on the mountain,” Sukau said.

Carney grew up in the Southern California town of LaVerne, 40 miles east of Los Angeles and graduated from Bonita High School in 2002. He was a competitive swimmer in high school and was on the swim team at UC Santa Cruz.

He is survived by his parents, Lawrence and Juliane Carney of LaVerne and sister Monica, 22, of Santa Cruz.

Besides swimming, Carney’s other passion was art, learning to draw, sketch and paint as a youngster, his parents said. He was at the top of his class academically in high school and at UC Santa Cruz, a feat he was particularly proud of since competitive swimming took much of his time, his parents said.

For a lot of people, it is difficult to play sports and have a good grade point average, but he did it very well, his mother said, adding that he was regimented, waking at 5:30 in the morning for practice and using his time wisely to maintain at least a 3.5 grade point average.

“He was a very special kid. He made friends easy and people really loved him. He was a very good influence on many people,” said his father, Lawrence. “He loved life in every way.”

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