Hospital CEO: Victim of New Mexico avalanche has died
TAOS, N.M. (AP) — A 22-year-old man died after being pulled from snow that crashed down a mountainside during an avalanche at a New Mexico ski resort, a hospital official said.
The man, whose name was not released, had been taken to Holy Cross Medical Center in Taos, but CEO Bill Patten said he couldn’t provide any specifics involving his injuries.
Taos Ski Valley has said two people were pulled from the snow Thursday after a 20-minute rescue effort.
Another victim remained in critical condition Friday, University of New Mexico Hospital spokeswoman Cindy Foster in Albuquerque said. She said she couldn’t release any additional information.
The avalanche near the highest peak of Taos Ski Valley initially spurred fears among authorities that more victims might be buried on the mountain. However, witnesses said they had not seen any other people on the slope when the slide began.
The resort planned an investigation to determine what triggered the avalanche.
The avalanche struck a stretch of mountain known as the K3 chute, where expert skiers who ride a lift to Kachina Peak can dart down a partially rock-lined run.
In a statement, Taos Ski Valley said avalanche mitigation work had been taking place throughout the season and just hours earlier in the area where the avalanche occurred.
Taos Ski Valley is located 124 miles (151 kilometers) northeast of Albuquerque.
Its terrain covers a 1,200-acre (5-square-kilometer) area of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. Kachina Peak is a nearly 12,500-foot (3,810-meter) summit and has one the highest chairlifts in North America.
A handful of deadly avalanches have occurred in Taos Ski Valley over the past 50 years some distance from the main trails.
The most recent death was in 1996, when a popular restaurant owner in Taos was killed while back-country skiing in Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area, outside Taos Ski Valley, according to the Albuquerque Journal.