Yesterday evening at 6 p.m., just after the sun went down at the Mountain High resort, tragedy struck under the night-sesh fluorescents.
While snowboarding down an unidentified slope at the resort, a 24-year-old Fullerton man crashed head-on into a patch of trees. Ski patrol and firefighters responded as soon as the accident was reported, and rushed him to a local hospital -- but he was soon pronounced dead.
Mountain High is known for its convenient proximity to L.A. and, as the small price to pay, its subpar SoCal snow (though we hear the terrain park is, like, legit). And any slope-head knows that when powder is shallow, ice and rocks can make for a dangerous downhill trip.
One Yelper notes that the slopes at Mountain High often consist of "ice/slush/some snow/rocks/dirt." However, during the five-day megastorm that shook SoCal last week, a snowboarder's dream fell from heaven. "There were a few icy spots, but there was also a bunch of fresh powder that made for a real nice sesh," writes Yelp user Megan H. about her visit on Saturday -- just two days before the young Fullerton man's fatal crash. (However, the resort's snow report shows no new natural snow, so it might be manmade.)
The San Bernardino coroner is currently performing the autopsy, and says he'll have some results out soon. He says he doesn't know whether the man was wearing a helmet.
Our favorite outdoorsy news website takes a deeper look at the four U.S. snowboarding deaths that have already occurred since Christmas Eve. It's still unclear whether that number is unusually high this early on in the season -- an average winter usually sees about 40 ski- or snowboard-related deaths in all. Reporter Pete Thomas describes the Christmas Day fatality of another California boarder:
Meanwhile, new information has emerged regarding a snowboarder who was discovered Christmas Day face-down in a creek that had apparently been covered by a natural snow bridge at Whistler-Blackcomb in British Columbia.
Cooper Plaxico, 20, of Windsor, Calif., and a student at Humboldt State University, was reported missing on Christmas Eve. Doug Forseth, senior vice president of operations at Whistler-Blackcomb, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that the snow bridge "probably just looked like a snow field to him" and that he probably downed after plunging through the snow bridge.
Plaxico, who had been wearing a helmet, was found with his board still on his feet and his head submerged. An autopsy will determine the cause of death.
For all you bravehearts yet undaunted who will be heading up to Big Bear today (with your helmets, we hope!), keep in mind that Highway
133 330 is a no-go. Apparently two lanes slid off a mountainside into oblivion after the weather soaked straight through it last week. We're not surprised.
Update: The 24-year-old Fullerton snowboarder who died yesterday was not wearing a helmet, according to the San Bernardino coroner.
His identity has not been released because the coroner has not yet gotten a hold of his family, who still lives in the snowboarder's home country of Romania.
City News Service also identifies the crash site as Headwall -- a well-lit run "near the bottom of the north-facing mountains." Anyone been down this particular slope? Did it seem particularly dangerous?