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1 person dead in tree well incident near Whitefish Mountain Resort

Whitefish Mountain Resort
Posted at 4:37 PM, Feb 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 20:00:42-05

(UPDATE: 5:21 p.m.) Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino has confirmed with MTN News that one person died as a result of a Friday afternoon tree well incident near Whitefish Mountain Resort. The victim has only been identified as a male at this time. We will update you when we get more information.

(First Report: 4:37 p.m.) A person was injured on Friday afternoon following a tree well incident near Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Resort spokeswoman Maren McKay says that shortly after 12 p.m. the ski patrol was dispatched to a tree well incident outside of the ski area boundary.

“Ski Patrol skied the last known area where the individual was said to have been seen and found the individual in a tree well around 1:35 p.m.,” McKay said in a statement.

CPR was performed at the scene and the patient was taken to North Valley Hospital's Base Lodge Clinic.

McKay says that after the patient arrived at the clinic, Big Mountain Ambulance took the patient to a hospital. No further information about the patient is available at this time.

"Whitefish Mountain Resort would like to remind skiers and riders of the dangers of tree wells,” McKay said. “If you choose to ski in the trees always ski with a buddy and with a whistle.”

We will update you as we get more details.

From the Ski Whitefish website:

Skiing and snowboarding off the groomed runs and in deep powder snow is one of the most exciting and appealing parts of our sport. If you decide to leave the groomed trails, you are voluntarily accepting the risk of falling into tree wells or deep snow and suffocating.
A deep snow or tree well accident occurs when a rider or skier falls into an area of deep unconsolidated snow and becomes immobilized. The more the person struggles, the more entrapped in the snow they become. Deaths resulting from these kinds of accidents are referred to as a NARSID or Non-Avalanche Related Snow Immersion Death. Fortunately, these types of accidents are preventable.