Placer official details investigation into death of ski patrol member at Squaw Valley
The Squaw Valley ski resort reopened Wednesday, a day after a ski patroller was killed by what officials are calling the accidental detonation of a hand-held device used to trigger controlled avalanches, Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows said in a statement.
The resort said it would operate Wednesday in the employee’s honor. He was identified the day before as as Joe Zuiches, a 42-year-old member of the Squaw Valley professional ski patrol since 2012 from Olympic Valley.
A GoFundMe page set up to help cover funeral costs surpassed $104,000 in donations by Wednesday morning. The page said Zuiches is survived by his wife and infant son.
Resort officials said the fatal incident happened at 8:35 a.m. Tuesday while Zuiches was on top of the Gold Coast Ridge on Squaw Valley, prompting the closure of the mountain. Zuiches was working in two two-person teams at the time of the explosion. It was unclear how far away his partner was at the time of the incident, though no other injuries were reported.
“We have a team that is a family and that family and team is grieving,” said resort manager Andy Wirth on Tuesday. “Within moments of hearing of the circumstances we made the immediate decision to shut down. It just didn’t feel right to operate the ski resort.”
An investigation into the explosive device that set off the controlled avalanche is being handled by the Placer County Sheriff’s Office and North Tahoe Fire Department, Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows said in a statement.