Extreme skier dies in Valdez avalanche

Posted: Wednesday, April 09, 2008

ANCHORAGE - An extreme skier was killed in an avalanche near Valdez.

When the slide hit, Jesse Tol, 31, of Valdez, was going up a mountain with his father, John Tol, on a snowmobile so that Jesse could snowboard down, according to Alaska State Troopers.

The father also was buried but was not hurt. The younger man was buried in about 5 feet of snow.

Megan Peters, a spokeswoman for the troopers, said Jesse Tol apparently had gotten off the snowmobile to look at the snow conditions.

"When the slide hit, it buried Jesse," Peters said.

Peters said it was a fairly small avalanche, but did a lot of damage.

The area was unsafe, with a number of smaller avalanches unleashed in recent days, said fire chief George Keeney.

Tol was carrying an emergency locator beacon, and his father and some bystanders were able to dig him out and perform CPR on him for about two hours, Keeney said.

A helicopter from Valdez Heli Camps flew to the scene and transported Tol down as witnesses and crew members continued to perform CPR, Peters said. The company did not return a call seeking comment Monday.

Tol was pronounced dead on the way to the Providence Valdez Medical Center, Peters said.

Tol had been a competitor in extreme skiing events for at least a decade. He was in a skiing video called "The Paradox," which featured him and others skiing the slopes near Valdez, said Jeremy Robida, a 31-year-old Valdez skier.

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