Skier dies after falling in tree well at Grand Targhee Ski Resort - East Idaho News

Skier dies after falling in tree well at Grand Targhee Ski Resort

  Published at  | Updated at

GRAND TARGHEE – A Colorado man died while skiing at Grand Targhee on Saturday after he fell in a tree well and became trapped.

Teton County Coroner Brent Blue identified the man as 67-year-old William Douglas England of Lakewood, Colorado.

Blue says they have not confirmed the manner of death yet but says England was trapped upside down under the snow in the tree well.

A deep snow or tree well immersion accident “occurs when a skier or rider falls into an area of deep unconsolidated snow and becomes immobilized and suffocates,” according to the National Ski Areas Association.

Tree well safety. | National Ski Areas Association

Grand Targhee Ski Resort general manager Geordie Gillett confirmed the fatality to Monday.

“Our condolences go out to the friends and family. It’s a tragedy,” says Gillett. “It’s also just very emotional for the patrollers, everybody on the team, and the resort as a whole. Definitely some heavy hearts around here the last few days.”

The Jackson Hole News and Guide reports England and his partner were skiing Saturday under the Colter Lift when they separated.

England’s partner got to the bottom of the run and didn’t hear from England for 10 or 15 minutes. His partner then called ski patrol and directed them to the trees between two runs: Silver Jae and Eleanor.

Ski patrol went out to look for England, who had already been found by skiers who saw him in the tree well and attempted to dig him out, according to a sheriff’s report obtained by the Jackson Hole News and Guide.

EMTs were eventually dispatched to the scene by snowmobile, and first responders “did everything they could to resuscitate him,” Gillett said.

He was eventually helicoptered to Teton Valley Hospital in Driggs, where he was pronounced dead.

Gillett stresses the importance of staying safe while skiing and asks skiers to familiarize themselves with safety practices by visiting the Tree Well & Deep Snow Safety page on the National Ski Areas Association website.

“Tree skiing is a lot of fun, people really enjoy it,” says Gillett. “The best thing you can do is ski with a buddy and keep very close eyes on each other. Limit the amount of time between losing sight of each other, so if there is an incident, you have as accurate of an area as possible.”

Gillett also recommends wearing an avalanche beacon and carrying an avalanche rescue shovel in case of an emergency.