Another skier has died from falling into a tree well. This latest accident happened in the Silver Fir area of Snoqualmie Pass, Washington.
Kelly Luna, 50, was skiing when he separated from his son and two other adults to ski through a treed area. When the group didn’t see him at the bottom of the hill, they took a lift back up to search for him, and found him trapped head-down in a tree well.
Attempts at resuscitation were not successful and Luna was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Summit at Snoqualmie Pass receives over 10 metres of annual snow at approximately 1000 meters and considerably more snow at mid and top elevations. This amount of snow is prime for this type of accident and is predominant at western ski areas.
A tree well/ snow immersion suffocation accident can happen when a skier or snowboarder falls – usually headfirst – into a tree well or deep loose snow and becomes immobilized and trapped under the snow and suffocates.
In an inverted position a skier or boarder can become trapped under the snow. Breathing becomes difficult as the loose snow packs in around you. Without immediate help from your partner, you may suffocate.
Prevention of falling into a tree well or areas of deep snow is all-important because the odds of surviving deep snow immersion are low.
90% of people involved in Tree Well/ SIS hazard research experiments could NOT rescue themselves. If a partner is not there for immediate rescue, the skier or rider may die very quickly from suffocation – in many cases, he or she can die as quickly as someone can drown in water.
For more information on how to avoid tree well entrapment or initiate a rescue visit powdercanada.com.