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Skier dies in collision at Wolf Creek

Posted: Friday, Jan 11th, 2013

Courier editor

WOLF CREEK — A 70-year-old Pagosa Springs man died Wednesday at the Wolf Creek Ski Area after colliding with a tree.

Mineral County Coroner Charles Downing pronounced John Hammel, 70, dead at 4:12 p.m. on Wednesday. Following a Thursday autopsy, Downing said the cause of death has been determined as blunt force chest injury trauma.

Downing said at about 1:45 p.m. on January 9 Hammel and his wife were skiing near the Bunny Hop trail at Wolf Creek, and Hammel was in front, with his wife skiing behind. He went over a hill, and when she followed she saw him at the bottom of the hill against a tree. He had apparently lost control and ran into the tree, Downing said.

The ski patrol and rescue crews arrived on the scene quickly and started CPR in an effort to resuscitate Hammel, but he never responded, Downing said. Hammel was not breathing, and emergency medical teams were unable to revive him.

Downing said he understood Hammel was not going very fast and had some health problems so he was not supposed to be skiing very fast.

Downing said the actual incident was not witnessed so he does not know exactly what happened, although Hammel’s wife was only a matter of 30-40 seconds behind him.

The autopsy report performed on Thursday revealed that Hammel had broken ribs and internal trauma that led to his death following impact with the tree.

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