A mother and her 7-year-old son died after they were discovered buried under snow just feet from their front door in what Northern California authorities are calling a "freak accident."
The Alpine County Sheriff's Department said that Olga Perkovic, 50, of San Francisco and her son Aaron Goodstein had been skiing in Kirkwood, which is in the Sierra Nevada near the state line. They were returning home from the slopes Sunday when a chunk of snow about the size of a trailer fell from the roof of their vacation condo, burying them under about 3 feet (0.91 meters) of snow.
"It was a freak accident," said Undersheriff Spencer Pace. He said warming temperatures often cause large chunks of snow to slide off roofs, occasionally injuring people. But he said neither he nor the sheriff can recall of sliding snow killing in the three decades they've been there.
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Pace said Perkovic's mother, who was staying in the condo with the family of five, reported the pair missing at about 6:40 p.m. Sunday.
Rescuers searched the nearby Kirkwood Ski Resort for hours because the pair's last know location was a ski lift where they scanned their tickets at about 4 p.m. Sunday.
Pace said it appears the two skied an "alternate" route home from the slopes that took them between buildings on a path that is unpaved in the summer.
At about 9 p.m., a neighbor spotted ski gloves next to the condo, realized they were buried beneath the snow and called 911.
The mother and son were airlifted to a hospital, where they were declared dead, Pace said.
They were the third and fourth to die skiers at California resorts since a major snowstorm late last week.
The region's largest storm of the winter season dumped more than 6 feet (1.83 meters) of snow in the area over the last week, according to the Kirkwood ski resort, which is about 180 miles (290 kilometers) east of San Francisco.
Kirkwood officials didn't return a call placed after 5 p.m.
Avalanches also briefly closed Squaw Valley and Mammoth Mountain in recent days.