Ski Patroller Killed in Fall From Lift

Christian Helger of Utah's Park City Mountain Resort died after tree fell on chairlift cable
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2023 8:17 AM CST
Ski Patrol Tried, Failed to 'Save One of Their Own'
Skiers ride the First Time lift at Park City Mountain Resort in Park City on Nov. 20, 2020.   (Jeffrey D. Allred /The Deseret News via AP)

A 29-year-old ski patroller died Monday when he was knocked from a chairlift at Utah's Park City Mountain Resort. Ten others were safely rescued from the chairlift, which began to rock significantly when a large pine tree fell onto a lift cable around 10:45am, according to the Summit County Sheriff's Office. The tree is believed to have struck just behind Christian Helger's chair, officials said, per Fox News, adding he fell at least 25 feet into a ravine full of snow. It took at least 20 minutes for ski patrol members to reach Helger and dig him out of "chest-deep snow," deputies said.

Ski patrol requested an airlift at 11:25am but Helger of Millcreek, Utah, was unresponsive and couldn't be revived, per NBC News. He had been on-duty at the time, reports KUTV. "The Park City Mountain team—as well as the entire Vail Resorts team—extend our deepest sympathy and support to the family and friends of our team member," said Deirdra Walsh, the resort's vice president. "We are all deeply saddened by this tragic incident, and we will be providing support for our employees as we grieve this devastating loss." The sheriff's office offered "deepest condolences" to Helger's family, friends, and resort employees, including the ski patrol team "that worked to save one of their own."

The Utah Office of the Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death. It was the second death in two days at the resort, per KUTV, which reports a 75-year-old man suffered a medical episode while skiing on Sunday morning. The Short Cut chairlift remains closed during an investigation. "Certainly, there are a lot of questions that will come into play as to what caused that to happen," Sheriff's Capt. Andrew Wright tells KSL. "Yes, there was a lot of snow. There could be other factors—the health of the tree, the proximity of the tree, all of those types of things." (More accidental death stories.)

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