Five people hit by avalanche at Squaw Valley ski resort, two hospitalized

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The cause of the avalanche is unknown, but the resort is investigating. Hepburn said Zhang's last known location was registered at the Squaw Creek chairlift at Squaw Valley Ski Resort, following a late-afternoon season pass scan.

A snowboarder at Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows resort was found dead Friday after disappearing in a blizzard the day prior, authorities said.

The man was snowboarding with friends in ungroomed terrain when he fell head-first into about 5 feet of fresh snow and suffocated when he couldn't free himself, Tim Cohee, China Peak's managing partner and general manager, told the Bee.

The resort used explosives and other tools to knock down snow to prevent avalanches throughout the day but the snowfall was heavy, she said.

The Placer County Sheriff's Office identified the victim Friday as 42-year-old Wenyu Zhang of Rocklin, California.

"Rescue teams performed numerous searches and ultimately cleared the scene".


The skiers and snowboarders were within areas open to skiing at the time and the guests had been warned of the potential danger, Squaw Valley spokeswoman Liesl Hepburn said. One guest had a serious lower body injury and was taken by firefighters to North Tahoe Forest Hospital.

Another guest was rescued by Squaw Valley rescue teams, transported to the Tahoe Truckee Medical Group at the base of Squaw Valley, and then was subsequently released.

Avalanches have proven to be fatal in the other parts of the US this year. The resort's web site reports that it has received 32 inches of snow in the past 24 hours. The Placer County Sheriff's Department reported he was wearing a helmet. We hope for the full and speedy recovery of the injured guests, and extend our thoughts and support to all those involved.

The storm that steamrollered through the Sierra Nevada still threatened rain and snow through Saturday afternoon in Southern California, a few hundred miles away.

Officials say 87 percent heeded the evacuation order issued Thursday when there was concern of a repeat of the deadly debris flows that hit the community of Montecito in January.

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