Icy conditions in a gated-access, double black diamond area of Heather Canyon at Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort contributed to the death of William James Cannard, 41, of Oregon City on Sunday, Jan. 30, at about 10:45 a.m.
The death was the second in just over a month at the resort. Ilya Sirosh, a 15-year-old from Portland, died of undetermined causes while snowboarding Dec. 22, 2010.
According to Hood River County Sheriff's Deputy, Gary Tiffany, Cannard was skiing alone on expert terrain, between Memorial Bowl and Twilight Bowl when he fell, sliding down a steep slope and striking a large tree head on. Cannard was not wearing a helmet.
Several nearby skiers, who witnessed portions of his fall and slide, came to his aid, attempting life-saving efforts until Meadows Ski Patrol members arrived in just under five minutes.
The Patrol continued CPR to the non-responsive Cannard as he was evacuated to the Meadows satellite parking lot located at the bottom of Heather Canyon. The evacuation team and Cannard were met by a Providence Hospital clinic physician, stationed at Meadows.
"This is a tragic situation," said Dave Tragethon, Meadows Marketing Director. "Right now, we mainly want to support the family and individuals involved in responding to the incident."
Tragethon reported that the area Cannard was skiing in is in a controlled access zone. It is considered expert level with extremely steep inclines and variable snow conditions within the 2,800 feet of elevation change. Reported conditions in the accident zone were icy with hard pack.
"A lot of things have to go wrong for something like this to occur," said Tragethon. "We have skiers making millions of safe, successful runs over a season. This is not a common thing."
According to Tragethon, following Cannard's fall, a witness skied to the bottom of Heather Canyon and reported Cannard's accident directly to a patrol member, who then radioed to a two-person patrol team in the area of the fall with specific location information.
The in-area patrol members quickly arrived on the scene and initiated CPR to the non-responsive Cannard. They then radioed for additional assistance to effect the evacuation. Cannard was carried down on a litter and continued to remain unresponsive in transit. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at the lot.
Cannard's wife and two young children were present at the resort during the time of the accident. No additional information is available on the family at this time.
"Even though conditions on Sunday were not conducive to avalanche, this is an area in which we always recommend skiers carry beacons and probes, in the event of an emergency," Tragethon said. "Skiing with a buddy is also recommended."
Hood River County Sheriff's Deputy Marc Smith conducted the investigation on site. The official medical examiner's report listed Cannard's death as "accidental due to head trauma," according to Assistant Hood River County Medical Examiner, Craig Danner, P.A.