KALISPELL- MTN is learning more about two men, 22-year-old Connor Heidegger of Rollins, and 28-year-old Scott Robert Hornstra of Alberta, who died in separate snowboarding incidents in Flathead County on Saturday.
The first incident occurred off Blacktail Road in Lakeside. Heidegger was out of bounds and some distance from the Black Tail Ski Area when he attempted to jump off a cliff and died from blunt force trauma.
“He never even came to the ski area. He was off the side of the road. So, skiing in-boundary where you have the support of patrol is important,” said Blacktail Mountain Ski Area Snowsports Director Jessie Wood. “And we responded as good Samaritans because we heard of the call through the Lakeside QR.”
The second incident occurred at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Hornstra became separated from his group.
Flathead Search and Rescue found him early Sunday morning upside down in a tree well.
Whitefish Mountain Resort released a statement:
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident. Any death at our resort is an event that impacts the entire Whitefish Mountain Resort community. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends as they cope during this difficult time.”
Whitefish Mountain Resort Public Relations Manager Riley Polumbus says that even when the powder is fresh guests should take some extra precautions.
“It’s an unfortunate risk of our sport, but tree wells, as well as deep snow, can be a big, serious hazard,” Polumbus said. “The best way to avoid this kind of a tragedy is to avoid deep snow and trees completely, stay on groomed runs. However, if you are going to go enjoy the trees and enjoy the powder you should be skiing with someone else, and you should always keep your partner in sight.”
The last time Whitefish Mountain Resort saw a tree well death was in 2014.
-Nicole Miller reporting for MTN