Despite powder-like conditions this weekend at Bear Mountain and Snow Summit ski resorts, the notion that fugitive Christopher Jordan Dorner was in the area scared off many potential skiers and snowboarders this weekend.
Today, those skiers and riders were no doubt feeling good about their gut feeling to stay away from the California ski resort areas in Big Bear.
Dorner emerged from hiding today and police were in a manhunt again trying to apprehend the former Los Angeles Police Officer. Dorner was surrounded by police inside a Big Bear area cabin after getting into a gun battle Tuesday that took the life of one San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputy and injured another.
The Associated Press is reporting that a single gunshot was heard about the time a fire began in the cabin. Some media outlets are speculating that Donner committed suicide.
Police believed on Tuesday that Dorner broke into a cabin located off Route 38 in Big Bear. He allegedly tied up two people inside the cabin until Tuesday morning when he finally departed. Fish and Wildlife officers spotted Dorner driving a truck and attempted to stop him, a source said.
Dorner crashed the truck during a chase and allegedly exchanged gunfire with the officers as he fled into another cabin, where he was quickly surrounded by San Bernardino sheriff’s deputies.
The Bear Mountain ski resort is 90 miles east of Los Angeles in the San Bernardino National Forest. The pursuit of Dorner forced the early closure of Bear Mountain on Thursday afternoon.
Bear Mountain was reporting 18 inches of fresh powder on Saturday, the single largest snowfall so far this season. People still skied and snowboarded on the weekend.
“We’ve got people coming up here to ski and snowboard, but maybe not as much as we would expect on a typical Saturday morning after a snow storm,” a Bear Mountain spokesperson said Saturday morning. “We couldn’t say (Dorner) is the reason we’re not as busy. The roads aren’t that great, either.”
The presence of so many law enforcement officers searching for a heavily armed suspect may have cut weekend ski business about 15 percent, resort officials said. Lodge operators were also reporting cancellations.
“It’s definitely slower than it would have been,” said Brent Tregaskis, general manager of Bear Mountain, told the Los Angeles Times. “That is the part of this that is a negative.”
A Bear Valley spokesperson, who didn’t want to be identified, said it felt safe to be skiing or riding Saturday at Bear Mountain or its sister resort, Snow Summit, which is about 10 minutes away.
“I’m sure law enforcement wouldn’t allow us to be open if they didn’t feel it was safe,” added the spokesperson on Saturday. “People don’t know where (Dormer) is. Nobody knows.”
It’s not often that a ski resort gets put on lockdown, but that’s what happened Thursday at Bear Mountain. The resort did open again Friday.