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Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association mourns loss of fellow patroller

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A community member provided KPCW with a picture of Park City Mountain employees in the aftermath of Helger's fall on the Short Cut lift Monday.

The Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association released a statement Wednesday acknowledging the patroller’s death.

On Wednesday the Summit County Sheriff's Office identified the 29-year-old ski patroller who lost his life Monday as Christian Helger of Millcreek.

The Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association released a statement Wednesday acknowledging Helger’s death.

The statement said Helger was returning to his station after a morning of avalanche mitigation work when the accident occurred.

He fell to his death Monday morning while riding the Short Cut lift. Investigators said they believe a pine tree fell onto the chair lift cable behind the chair he was riding in, causing nearby chairs to jump so severely he fell out. Helger fell somewhere around 50 feet, according to emergency crews, into a ravine of deep snow.

Ski patrollers worked for hours to extricate Helger’s body in what they called avalanche-prone terrain. Other patrollers safely evacuated remaining riders from the lift and escorted them out of the challenging area.

The ski patrol union declined to comment on the state of the lift cable and surrounding trees.

The union said in its statement that any loss is incredibly difficult for patrollers, but responding to a fatal accident involving one of their own was “truly unfathomable.”

The resort closed several lifts on the Canyons side Tuesday in support of patrol staff.

The ski patrol association said it would support memorial services for Helger, and would help coordinate a local celebration of life when appropriate.

For now, the union asks the community to continue respecting its space and grief process.

Full statement from the Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association:

It is with extremely heavy hearts that the Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association acknowledges the passing of our friend and colleague Christian Helger.

Christian was on-duty and returning to his station after a morning conducting avalanche mitigation when the lift accident occurred. Many members of our team performed exceptional lifesaving measures in effort to save him. Over the course of many hours, our rescuers coordinated an incredibly difficult extrication to navigate out of avalanche terrain. As these great efforts were in progress, other members of our team safely evacuated remaining riders from the lift and escorted them out of this challenging area.

Throughout this process we were supported by Park City Fire, Summit County Sheriff's office, Utah Department of Public Safety, and many resort departments including lift operations, mountain activities, and food & beverage. We would like to extend our deepest gratitude for their kindness and aid.

Any loss is incredibly difficult for first responders; responding to the fatal accident of one of our own is truly unfathomable. For now, our community is simply processing this tragedy. Moving forward, we intend to support memorial services for Christian’s family and help coordinate a local celebration of life when the time is appropriate. We will notify the public if there are specific ways in which others can support. In the meantime, we kindly ask the community to continue respecting our space and grief process. Thank you to all who have reached out with messages of sympathy and support.

Parker Malatesta covers Park City for KPCW. Before coming to NPR, he spent one year as a general assignment reporter for TownLift in Park City. He previously was the news editor at The News Record, the student paper at the University of Cincinnati. He loves running, reading, and urban planning.