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Accident results in skier death on mountain last week

Discovered in a tree well

by Mark Reaman

A visiting skier died on the mountain Wednesday, January 30.

Vail Resorts director of communications Liz Biebl said the accident was first discovered by ski patrol. “Crested Butte Mountain Resort regretfully confirms that an 87-year-old male from Oklahoma was declared deceased at the Gunnison Valley Health Mountain Clinic in Mt. Crested Butte after being discovered unresponsive on an intermediate trail on Wednesday, January 30, 2019. Crested Butte Ski Patrol responded and transported the guest to the Gunnison Valley Health Mountain Clinic in Mt. Crested Butte. After further emergency care and evaluation, the guest was pronounced deceased,” Biebl wrote in an email.

According to the Mt. Crested Butte police department report, CBMR ski patrollers located an unresponsive man off a main trail in a tree well during a routine sweep of the mountain. Police were paged about the incident at about 5 p.m.

“Police and EMS were paged to the ski area clinic for an elderly man in critical condition being brought off the mountain by Ski Patrol,” explained Mt. Crested Butte police spokesperson Marjorie Trautman. “Upon meeting with Ski Patrol, police officers were told that two patrollers found a downed rope at the intersection of Ruby Chief and Yellow Brick Road. When approaching the rope to right it, they noticed a man approximately 10 to 15 feet down an embankment in a tree well. The patrollers reportedly found the man unresponsive and radioed for assistance. CPR was started.”

According to Trautman, the skier was identified as Gerald Zumwalt (date of birth May 6, 1931) of Oklahoma. Zumwalt was transported to the ski area clinic with CPR continuing while en route. Zumwalt was found to have multiple abrasions on his left side, including his arm and face and a large hematoma on the top of his head. Zumwalt was wearing a helmet, which also was scratched on the left side.

Deputy Gunnison county coroner Lisa Merck said the manner of death was accidental and the cause was multiple traumatic injuries to the head and chest.

“Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Crested Butte Ski Patrol and the entire Vail Resorts family extend our deepest sympathy and support to our guest’s family and friends,” said Tim Baker, general manager of Crested Butte Mountain Resort.

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