Two teens visiting Colorado on spring break vacation died Sunday night while sledding in the halfpipe at Copper Mountain ski resort after launching off a snowbank at the bottom and crashing down on the hard ice below.
The teenagers, a 17- and 18-year-old from Illinois, died of blunt force injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Monday.
The sledders were riding tandem down the halfpipe before the crash at about 8:35 p.m., the sheriff’s office said. Despite getting immediate medical attention, they could not be revived.
“Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families and friends of the individuals involved in this tragic accident,” Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimmons said.
Copper Mountain closes its lifts and trail access at 4 p.m. every day, including the Olympic-sized halfpipe, which was roped off at the time of the accident, a spokeswoman said in a statement on behalf of the ski resort.
The resort doesn’t allow sledding in the base areas and each base area has signs to inform the public of that rule.
The halfpipe is 22 feet tall and nearly 550 feet in length with an 18-degree pitch. The halfpipe is used for Olympic-qualifying events, as well as other freestyle skiing and snowboarding competitions in the halfpipe category but opens it to the public when it’s not being used during events.
“The entire team at Copper Mountain is deeply saddened by this tragic accident,” Dustin Lyman, Copper Mountain’s president and general manager said in a statement. “Our most sincere condolences go out to the affected families and friends. We are also thankful to our local responders for their quick response and the medical assistance provided.”
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The sledders were not publicly named and their deaths remain under investigation by the county coroner’s office.
The sheriff’s office declined to provide additional information on the accident.
Prairie Central High School in Illinois, where the teens were students, said the deaths have caused “a significant loss” for the school and community.
“The loss will affect everyone in our school family and our communities,” Superintendent Paula Crane said in a statement. “Students may have a difficult time dealing with the loss and we encourage you to talk to your child.”