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Missing skier found

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

A 17-year-old boy from Los Gatos, Calif., got lost Thursday night at Heavenly Ski Resort and commanded a search effort by more than 30 rescue personnel.

Randy West was reported missing at 6:10 p.m. and not located until 12:30 a.m., said Douglas County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Bob Rudnick.

Rescuers hiked and snowmobiled into the Nevada side of Heavenly around 8 p.m. The combined search and rescue team included deputies, volunteers from Douglas and El Dorado counties and patrollers from Heavenly. A helicopter could not be used in the search because of strong winds.

West was found under a pine tree in a drainage area of Mott Canyon, Rudnick said. The makeshift shelter provided shielding from the wind and deep snowpack.

“The fact that he remained in one position and let the rescuers come to him was a good decision,” Rudnick said.

Patrollers checked out the lost skier and found him in good condition. When West, wearing only ski pants and a hooded sweatshirt, was found, the temperature was 32 degrees and dropping, Rudnick said.

The search and rescue was the fourth this season, a record for Douglas County.

“It seems more and more apparent that people are disregarding markers and ski trails and runs and are putting themselves in harm’s way,” Rudnick said. “These people who are skiing out-of-bounds are really creating a dangerous situation for themselves and rescuers.”

Unlike El Dorado County, Douglas County does not require skiers or snowboarders who travel intentionally out-of-bounds to pay for the cost of searches.

Rudnick hopes the fourth time will be the last time.

“Hopefully some people will exercise some better judgment to ski or snowboard where they’re designated to be,” he said.


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