The latest death that occurred earlier this week at Homewood Mountain Resort serves as a reminder that there is a dangerous aspect to skiing and snowboarding.
Yesenia Garcia-Ramirez, 22, of San Jose, died while skiing Feb. 13 at Homewood Mountain Resort. The Placer County Sheriff's Department believes that the San Jose woman hit a tree while skiing in late morning. She was reportedly not wearing a helmet.
“Based on witness statements, that’s what the deputy at the scene surmised, that she hit a tree,” Placer County Sheriff's Sgt. Michelle Baxter said this morning. “We have no evidence to the contrary.”
Garcia-Ramirez, 22, is believed to be the third skier who has died this season at a Lake Tahoe ski resort.
According to the Sheriff’s report, Garcia-Ramirez was found at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday unconscious on the Sunnyside run. The trail is located off the Quail lift, a triple chairlift on the southside of the mountain that accesses both beginner and expert terrain.
This marks the first deadly incident of the year at Homewood, according to the Placer County Sheriff's Department.
Two other skier deaths at Squaw, Alpine
The two other deaths at Lake Tahoe ski resorts happened prior to Christmas.
Theodore Stanley Sorensen of Auburn, who was reportedly an expert skier, died while doing what he loved – skiing. Sorenson died on Dec. 21 when he collided with a tree at Squaw Valley ski resort.
According to a report from Squaw, the fatal incident occurred in the morning on the West Face of KT-22 involving the 71-year-old male skier. He was wearing a helmet. According to an online website post, Sorensen had taught many members of his family how to ski. One post said his favorite run at Squaw was KT-22.
The first death of the 2012-13 season took place Nov. 10 at Alpine Meadows. Annalise Kjolhede, 24, was a member of the Alpine Meadows Kids Ski School. She suffered a serious accident while freeskiing during a time when the resort was closed to the public.
According to an Alpine spokesperson, Kjolhede sustained a head injury when she fell and collided with a rock outcropping at the bottom of Wolverine Bowl. She was wearing a helmet, but she sustained injures to an unprotected part of her head.
Two avalanche deaths in Tahoe
Another tragedy took place at Alpine in late December. Bill Foster, an extremely experienced ski patrol member at Alpine Meadows ski resort, died while performing avalanche prevention.
Foster, 53, was a professional ski patroller with 28 years on the job. But he got caught in the avalanche at Alpine when he and other team members believed they were safely triggering a potentially dangerous area with an explosive charge in the Sherwood Bowl.
A ski patrol member threw an explosive, triggering the avalanche. However, according to reports, the avalanche broke much higher and wider on the slope than expected and buried Foster in snow.
The other Lake Tahoe avalanche-related death occurred at Donner Ski Ranch where an avalanche buried a snowboarder, who wasn’t found for several hours.
In the incident at Donner, Steven Anderson, 49, of Hirschdale, was riding above the avalanche for some time, but his body was found at the base of the mountain under the snow near a rocky ridge.
By the time rescuers reached him, Anderson had been buried in snow for about five hours.
A search dog found Anderson's body under 2 to 3 feet of snow at the base of the avalanche. Reports said the wind had blown snow to depths of 7 feet or more where Anderson was snowboarding, which was inside the ski area's boundaries near the main lodge.
The two deaths were as many as the Tahoe region experienced during the 2011-12 season. Overall, there have been 19 avalanche fatalities in California during the past 10 years.