Skier at Vail dies after apparently hitting tree | AspenTimes.com

Skier at Vail dies after apparently hitting tree

Matt Zalaznick
Special to The Aspen Times

A 43-year-old skier from Texas died Tuesday morning after he was found unconscious in the woods off an intermediate run in Vail Mountain’s Game Creek Bowl, officials said.

And though the skier appears to have hit a tree, it’s not yet clear if that caused his death, Eagle County Coroner Donna Barnes said. The man, David Wayne Rust of Irving, Texas, was clinging to life when he was found by a ski patroller around 9:30 a.m. in the trees off The Woods ski run, Barnes said.

“He was found unresponsive and not breathing,” Barnes said. “We don’t know what happened, and we’re not going to speculate.”

Nobody saw Rust fall in the woods, but minor facial abrasions indicate he hit a tree, she said.

“It’s not obvious because it’s only small abrasions,” Barnes said, adding that a skier with minor facial abrasions could still have suffered a life-threatening head injury.

An autopsy should be completed today or Thursday, Barnes said.

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“This is an unfortunate tragedy that affects all of us, and our hearts and our thoughts are with his family,” said Vail Mountain spokeswoman Jen Brown.

Ski patrollers performed CPR on Rust and used defibrillators in an attempt to revive him. He was transported down Vail Mountain and was pronounced dead at Vail Valley Medical Center at 10:25 a.m., Barnes said.

Rust, who was visiting Vail with his wife and another couple, apparently got separated from a friend on the slopes. But since it was not unusual for Rust to ski alone, his friend was not alarmed, Barnes said.

“He tended to ski by himself, so they thought he was skiing by himself,” she said.

Rust ran an air-conditioning business in Texas, Barnes said.

Because the cause of Rust’s death is unknown, it’s too early to say if he is the 12th person in Colorado this season to die in a ski-related accident.

The total of 11 people killed in ski accidents in the state this season is one less than the record of 12 deaths, which occurred during the 1988-1989 season.

Most recently, on Feb. 18, 5-year-old Leonie Arguetty of West Palm Beach, Fla., died of a severe brain injury a few days after she hit a tree at Aspen Highlands.