RENO, Nevada (TBEN) – The widow and a friend of a man killed in an avalanche at a Lake Tahoe ski resort last year have filed separate lawsuits accusing the resort of negligent rushing to open the trails in dangerous conditions for a holiday weekend which is usually one of the busiest of the season.
Cole Comstock, 34, of Blairsden, Calif., Was killed and his close friend Kaley Bloom seriously injured when they were washed away in the avalanche at Alpine Meadows on January 17, 2020 – the Friday before the Martin Luther King Jr. Day. No one else was seriously injured.
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Bloom and Cole’s widow, Caitlin Raymond, recently filed the lawsuits in Placer County Superior Court. Both seek unspecified damages from Alpine Meadows for negligence, gross negligence and breach of contract. Raymond’s lawsuit also alleges that the resort is to blame for the wrongful death of her late husband.
The resort had closed the day before after several days of heavy snowfall and received an additional 11-22 inches (28-56 centimeters) of snow the night before in high winds that dramatically increase the avalanche threat, according to the lawsuits.
The Reno National Weather Service reported wind gusts of up to 116 mph atop the alpine meadows the night before.
Alpine Meadows “premature opening” on Friday “was in response to public and economic pressure to open this particular elevator and callous disregard for the dangerous combination of conditions,” according to Bloom’s lawsuit filed on February 2. He says he suffered serious and continuous injuries. and suffering.
The resort said in a statement hours after the deadly avalanche at around 10:16 a.m., avalanche mitigation work had been carried out in the area before it opened to skiers and snowboarders for the day. Such mitigation often involves the use of air cannons or other explosive detonations to intentionally set off smaller and less dangerous avalanches.
“Although we cannot comment on the pending litigation, January 17, 2020 was a devastating day for our Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows team, and we continue to share our deepest condolences with the family and friends of those affected.” Alex Spychalsky, spokesperson for the two neighboring stations, said in an email to The The Bharat Express News.
Mark Ellis, a lawyer based in Sacramento, represents the two plaintiffs.
Raymond’s lawsuit filed on January 29 indicates that Alpine Meadows “should not have opened the ski slope under the circumstances”.
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Like most ski resorts, buyers of mountain passes must sign a release form warning that participation in winter activities “may be dangerous and result in risk of injury or death.” But Raymond’s lawsuit says the resort increased the risk beyond those normally borne by a skier because Cole and Bloom thought they were skiing a safe trail because avalanche mitigation efforts were made earlier in the season. day.
The reopening of the tracks on Friday after they had closed the day before “created a false and reckless illusion of safety,” according to the lawsuit. “Inadequate and / or incomplete mitigation measures did not decrease or mitigate the risks, but rather increased the risk and turned a hazardous area into a lethal area.”
Seven people were killed in an avalanche at Alpine Meadows in 1982, but Raymond’s costume notes that most ski fatalities occur outside of the ski resort boundaries and within the boundaries avalanche fatalities are rare.
Comstock was an experienced skier who grew up in the Sierra and skied both within and out of limits depending on the conditions of the day and information from the resort and ski patrol, his widow said.
Raymond was skiing across the mountain when she received a phone call from friends telling him that there had been an avalanche. She went to wait for her husband under a chairlift.
It was then that she saw the ski patrol pulling a stretcher with someone covered in snow and blood. When they stopped and began administering CPR to the victim, she recognized the brown ski boots and realized it was her husband.
She said blood flowed from her mouth with each thrust on her chest as the patrol team took turns at the CPR for 45 minutes.
“Finally, they stopped as she watched them pull the white sheet over him. Her last image of her husband was a broken corpse already dead, ”according to the lawsuit.
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