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Two Deaths from Tree Well Immersion at Mt. Bachelor

Fatalities from tree wells at ski resorts are fairly uncommon, but two in the same day is unprecedented. Scott Swigart / Flickr photo.

On Friday, tragedy struck Mt. Bachelor in Oregon as a skier and snowboarder died in separate incidents from tree well immersion, according to the U.S. News and World Report. Per the report, the victims were 24-year-old Alfonso Braun of Bend, Oregon and 19-year-old Nicole Panet-Raymond of Eugene, Oregon.

As reported by KPTV, at around 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Panet-Raymond was reported missing after she was separated from her friends. Her body was located through her cell phone by Mt. Bachelor ski patrol and Deschutes County Search and Rescue around 8:30 p.m. Friday evening. Upon discovery, she was pronounced dead.

Additionally, skiers and snowboarders found Braun buried at around 12 p.m. the same day. Despite life-saving attempts, the snowboarder was unable to be resuscitated. Both deaths are still under investigation.

"Our entire mountain community is shocked and saddened," John McLeod–Mt. Bachelor's president and general manager–said in a statement. "We are heartbroken, and our deepest condolences go out to the affected families and friends."

Recent heavy snow storms have drawn large crowds out to Mt.Bachelor. In regards to the recent snowfall, the company has expressed concerns about the dangers related to tree well immersion on their website. The resort's last tree well fatality was in 2002. Having two unrelated tree well fatalities on the same day is extremely rare.

"With all this new low-density snow comes a reminder about tree well and snow immersion hazards," the company wrote in a statement. "A good time to get caught up on good safety practices and always ski or ride with a buddy in eyesight if you're headed off-trail."

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