EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to accurately reflect the name of the victim. We sincerely regret the error.
BRIGHTON, Utah (ABC4) – An overdue skier near Brighton was found dead on Tuesday, March 7, confirmed the Unified Police Department.
UPD Sgt. Melody Cutler confirmed with ABC4 that a call reporting an overdue skier was made just after 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Kyle Mortensen, 37, had gone skiing in the backcountry near Brighton.
GPS coordinates of his approximate location were provided and Wasatch Back Country Rescue responded to the area. Mortensen was found dead shortly after in a tree well.
A tree well is a deep area that can form at the base of trees after a heavy or series of snowstorms. According to Deep Snow Safety, Evergreen trees in particular can have large, deep tree wells due to low-hanging branches blocking snow from filling in and consolidating the area at the base of the tree.
The National Ski Areas Association says skiers and snowboarders can fall into these areas of deep unconsolidated snow and become immobilized and possibly die.
UPD Sgt. Cutler told ABC4 that police believe Mortensen struck a tree and fell into the well, where he became stuck.