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1 killed, another injured in avalanche near Lake Tahoe, officials say

Tribune News Service logo Tribune News Service 1/17/2020 By Hannah Fry, Los Angeles Times
a man riding skis down a snow covered mountain: ALPINE MEADOWS, CA JANUARY 15, 2016 -- A skier navigates a run at Alpine Meadows near Lake Tahoe. © Squaw Valley Resort/TNS/TNS ALPINE MEADOWS, CA JANUARY 15, 2016 -- A skier navigates a run at Alpine Meadows near Lake Tahoe.

A skier was killed and another seriously injured when an avalanche sent snow barreling down the mountain at Alpine Meadows Ski Resort just west of Lake Tahoe on Friday morning, authorities said.

Sheriff’s deputies in Placer County, Calif., responded to the resort, above the Subway ski run, about 10:30 a.m. PST after they received a report of an avalanche, Sgt. Mike Powers said.

Cole Comstock, 34, was killed in the avalanche, the Placer County sheriff wrote on Twitter. Comstock lived in Blairsden, about 90 miles east of Chico. A second man suffered severe injuries to his lower body and was taken by ambulance to a hospital, according to authorities and a statement from the ski resort.

Search and rescue crews and avalanche dogs scoured the mountain for more than an hour. They were called off around 1 p.m. after confirming there were no additional victims, according to the Placer County sheriff.

“This is an area of the resort that’s an advanced ski area, and at this point, there’s no reason to believe that any other areas of the resort or Alpine Meadows is in jeopardy,” Powers said. The cause of the avalanche was unclear as of Friday afternoon, the resort said.

“The entire Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows team, including all of the first responders, extend their deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the deceased. We are working closely with the families of all the affected individuals to ensure their continued care,” the resort wrote in a statement.

The Sierra Avalanche Center rated avalanche conditions Friday as “considerable” for all elevations. The center noted that a new layer of snow from Thursday’s storm brought a high degree of uncertainty to snowpack stability.

Edan Weishahn, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno, Nev., said 1 foot to 2 feet of snow has fallen in the Sierra Nevada near the resort over the past day.

It is not clear what caused the avalanche, but the avalanche center reported “significant drifting of new snow” near and above the treeline Friday.

Deadly avalanches are not unprecedented at Alpine Meadows.

In March 1982, a massive avalanche hit the Summit Chairlift Terminal building, the main ski lodge, several small buildings and two chairlifts, and buried the resort’s parking lot under at least 10 feet of snow. Seven people were killed.

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