Taos Ski Valley avalanche kills 1 skier, another hospitalized

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One of the skiers pulled from Thursday’s avalanche at Taos Ski Valley has been identified.

Matthew Zonghetti, from Massachusetts, was confirmed as the 26-year-old skier who died after becoming trapped in an avalanche on Kachina Peak. 

The second skier is hospitalized with critical injuries.

The avalanche was unusual because it happened in-bounds. Kachina Peak is the highest peak at the resort and is for experts only. 

The avalanche was triggered just after 11 a.m. off the K-3 chute, sending a wall of fast-moving snow down the mountain. When it stopped two skiers were buried near Lift 4 under several feet of snow. 

The CEO of Taos Ski Valley, David Norden, says this was a good size avalanche and everyone is still a bit shaken up. He also says there were about 1,000 skiers on the mountain Thursday. 

Hundreds of people including EMTs, ski patrol and other skiers sprung into action creating lines down the mountain to find and save the two people buried. 

Search and rescue dogs were also used to make sure no one else was trapped. 

Visitors coming into the ski valley say they were shocked to hear the news. 

Norden says Kachina Peak’s ski runs are for expert skiers. He says they opened the lift for the season two days ago. 

“There was a lot of control work [Thursday] morning to ensure they were safe conditions. We determined that it was safe and unfortunately we had a release,” he said. 

Norden says it took search and rescue about an hour to get the two victims out and down the mountain. One victim was rushed to an area hospital. The other was airlifted to UNM Hospital. 

The identities of both skiers are unknown.

Taos Ski Valley says it is bringing in experts to help them investigate what triggered the avalanche.

Click here to view the live Taos Ski Valley base camera.

Click here to view the live Taos Ski Valley Highline camera.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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