Lake Tahoe Avalanches Claim Lives

A search dog found the man's body under 2 to 3 feet of snow at the base of the avalanche.

Wednesday, Dec 26, 2012  |  Updated 9:32 AM PDT
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Over the weekend, two men lost their lives in Lake Tahoe because of avalanches. Stephanie Chuang reports

Over the weekend, two men lost their lives in Lake Tahoe because of avalanches. Stephanie Chuang reports

 A member of a Sierra ski resort's patrol team who was injured after being caught in an avalanche has died - the second death connected to avalanches that occurred in the area on Monday.
 
Bill Foster, 53, died at Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, Nev., where he was taken after the avalanche a day earlier at Alpine Meadows near Lake Tahoe, the Truckee-based resort said in a statement on Tuesday.
 
Resort spokeswoman Amelia Richmond said she did not know whether Foster, a 28-year veteran with the resort's ski patrol team, died Monday night or Tuesday.
 
Foster was buried in a slide that had been intentionally set with an explosive device by a senior member of the ski patrol team. The team was doing avalanche control in an area closed to the public on the back side of the resort.

The avalanche broke much higher and wider on the slope than in past snow safety missions, according to the resort.
 
Foster was located in about a minute and uncovered within eight minutes. Members of the ski patrol team performed CPR before he was taken to the hospital.

An avalanche at a neighboring Sierra resort on Monday also claimed a life. Steven Mark Anderson, 49, of Truckee, Calif. was buried in an avalanche while snowboarding at Donner Ski Ranch, about 90 miles northeast of Sacramento.
 
A search dog found his body under 2 to 3 feet of snow at the base of the avalanche.
 
Tahoe-area ski resorts received at least 3 feet of snow in a series of storms from Friday through Sunday, leading to dangerous conditions even within ski area boundaries.

The sheriff's department received a call about the missing man at noon Monday, nearly three hours after the avalanche. Deputy David Lade said it took that long for Anderson's friends to determine he was missing. The friends had not been skiing as a group, but rather went their own way in the morning, Lade said.

"They spent a lot of time trying to locate him," he said.

A search dog found Anderson's body about 1:30 p.m. under 2 to 3 feet of snow at the base of the avalanche. Lade said the wind had blown snow to depths to 7 feet or more where the man was snowboarding, which was inside the ski area's boundaries near the main lodge.
Anderson was believed to be the only person caught in the slide, Lade said.

Tahoe-area ski resorts received at least 3 feet of snow in a wind-whipped series of storms from Friday through Sunday, leading to perilous conditions even within ski area boundaries.

"With the extremely heavy snowfall we've gotten over the last three days and the conditions prior to that, it's prime avalanche conditions," Lade said.

Two neighboring ski resorts, Squaw Valley USA and Alpine Meadows, also reported dangerous avalanches. A veteran ski patroller at Alpine Meadows was taken Monday to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno after being buried in a slide that had been intentionally set with an explosive device.

"The charge triggered the avalanche, which broke much higher and wider on the slope than previously observed in past snow safety missions," the resort said in a statement.
The patroller, who had 28 years of experience at the resort, was uncovered within eight minutes.

Resort spokeswoman Amelia Richmond said she could not release his condition, and the hospital did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
The ski patrol team was doing avalanche control in Sherwood Bowl, which is within the boundaries on the back side of resort.
 

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