More than $175,000 raised for family of fallen Squaw ski patroller
OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Squaw Valley ski resort reopened Wednesday, a day after a ski patrol member was killed in an accident involving explosives used to artificially trigger an avalanche.
Squaw Valley Ski Holdings CEO Andy Wirth said the resort reopened to honor 42-year-old Joe Zuiches — ski patrol team members at the resort, after being consulted, said their veteran colleague would have wanted it that way.
According to a Tuesday report, Zuiches was carrying an undisclosed amount of ammonium nitrate-based charges as part of two, two-men teams working on avalanche control when the explosion happened at about 8:35 a.m.
A team of explosives specialists was called in to safely recover undetonated charges, according to the Associated Press, which delayed until Tuesday afternoon the removal of Zuiches’ body from the mountain.
The official cause of death awaits a Placer County autopsy, and the entire incident remains under investigation.
“The whole team here at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows is so deeply saddened, profoundly saddened by this tragic loss,” Wirth said at a press conference Tuesday. “We are a family and this impacts everybody on our team.”
Zuiches, a Truckee resident and former Olympic Valley resident, reportedly started with the Squaw Valley ski patrol in 2012 and was an accomplished mountaineer who had climbed Mt. Rainer and Mt. Hood in addition to reaching California’s Mt. Shasta’s 14,180-foot summit more than 50 times.
As of Thursday morning, more than 2,400 people had contributed more than $176,000 to a GoFundMe memorial established for his surviving wife and infant son.
Initially, the account began with a goal of a few thousand dollars, but due to an incredible outpouring of support from the Tahoe community, the goal has grown to $50,000, then $100,000, then $150,000 and now up to $200,000 as of Wednesday evening, in a space of roughly 1 day.
Visit https://www.gofundme.com/squaw-patrol-funeral-fund to learn more and to donate.