Tags: california | storm | dead | avalanche

California Storm: 2 Dead, Heavy Snow Causes Avalanche

California Storm: 2 Dead, Heavy Snow Causes Avalanche
Shoppers navigate the snowy Grocery Outlet parking lot in Glenbrook Basin, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Grass Valley, Calif. (Elias Funez/The Union via AP)

By    |   Monday, 05 March 2018 09:09 AM

A California winter storm left two people dead in separate incidents last week while sparking an avalanche at a popular ski resort near Lake Tahoe.

Blake Smith, 36, died Friday after what was called a freak accident while he was snowboarding at China Peak Mountain Resort, the Fresno Bee reported. While out on the snowy day, Smith reportedly tumbled and fell headfirst into a five-foot embankment of fresh snow and could not free himself, Tim Cohee, the resort's managing partner and general manager told the newspaper.

Smith reportedly suffocated when he could not get out of the embankment, Cohee said, per the Bee. The newspaper said the resort had recently reopened after being closed for weeks because of a lack of snow.

"I want people to remember him as a good, kind, loving soul who would do anything for anybody," Brandon Sims, 36, who grew up with Smith and graduated from high school together, said to the Bee. "Especially (his) friends. He loved his mom and dad more than anything."

The Sacramento Bee reported that Wenyu Zhang, 42, a snowboarder from Rocklin, California, was found dead Friday morning in the Squaw Creek area of the Squaw Valley Ski Resort after he was reported missing Thursday night, the Sacramento Been reported.

Zhang, who was described as an advanced snowboarder, had not been seen since 12:45 p.m. Thursday when he headed out snowboarding at the resort but never returned, Placer County Sheriff spokeswoman Dena Placer told the Sacramento Bee.

He was reported missing about 9 p.m. and rescuers initiated a search that had to be suspended until first light Friday, the newspaper said. Zhang was found at 10:17 a.m. near a group of trees, but his body did not show any signs of trauma, authorities told the Sacramento Bee.

Authorities said that Zhang was found using a "Recco" device, which reads a chip or reflector that's attached to clothing, boots and helmets by manufacturers, which helped them locate his body, the Sacramento Bee wrote

Five skiers and snowboarders had to be rescued from the resort after an avalanche buried them in snow a little before 2 p.m. Friday, at the Squaw Valley resort, Fox News reported.

Squaw Valley Ski Patrol and Alpine Meadows Ski Patrol located two females and three males caught in the avalanche, with one suffered a serious lower body injury and was transported by North Tahoe Fire Department to Tahoe Forest Hospital, a statement said.

Another was transported to the Tahoe Truckee Medical Group at the base of Squaw Valley, and then was subsequently released, the statement continued. The three other guests who were caught in the avalanche left the scene unharmed, Squaw Valley officials stated.

The powerful winter storm disrupted travel in California through Saturday, according to AccuWeather. The weather service wrote that that storm's moisture reached northern and central California last Wednesday night and Thursday dropping more than an inch of rain on San Francisco and Sacramento.

Heavy snow slowed traffic in the Sierra Nevada, including over Donner Pass as officials were forced to close a portion of Interstate 80 in California on Thursday, AccuWeather stated.

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Two people died in separate incidents in California as a winter storm brought heavy snow, sparking an avalanche at a popular ski resort near Lake Tahoe.
california, storm, dead, avalanche
Monday, 05 March 2018 09:09 AM
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