Archive for Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ski patrol worker dies after avalanche

January 26, 2008

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— Mountain avalanches killed an off-duty ski patrol worker and left another person missing Friday as California strained under nearly a week of snow and rain.

One avalanche struck Friday afternoon at Wrightwood in the snow-laden San Gabriel Mountains. A 23-year-old employee of the Mountain High ski area was pulled from the debris, but died at a hospital later that afternoon, a hospital spokeswoman said. His name was not released.

As night fell, searchers were still looking for another person who was missing after a second avalanche about a half-mile from the first, on national forest land.

"I'm sure that the avalanches are due to the amount of snow that has fallen over the past several days," said Tim Wessel, division chief for the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

The avalanches were outside Mountain High's boundaries. The resort, which was closed by high winds a day earlier, remained open.

An avalanche advisory was issued for the ski area at nearby Mount Baldy, a 10,000-foot peak about 40 miles east of Los Angeles, and the lifts there were closed, Angeles National Forest spokesman Stanton Florea said.

Elsewhere, utility crews repaired electrical outages while highway crews worked to keep mountain routes open.

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