Officials urge caution after Flathead County snowboarding deaths - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Officials urge caution after Flathead County snowboarding deaths

Posted: Jan 01, 2018 6:15 PM Updated:

Two men lost their lives in separate incidents while snowboarding in Flathead County on Saturday.

The first incident occurred off of Blacktail Road in Lakeside.

22-year-old Conner Heidegger of Rollins was out of bounds and some distance away from Blacktail Mountain Ski Area when he attempted to jump off of a cliff and died from blunt force trauma.

According to Blacktail Mountain Ski Area snow sports director Jessie Wood, Heidegger never came to the ski area.

"He was off the side of the road," Wood said. "Skiing in boundary is important and we responded as good Samaritans when we heard of the call through the Lakeside QRU."

The second incident occurred at Whitefish Mountain Resort after 28-year-old Robert Hornstra became separated from his group.

Flathead Search and Rescue found him early Sunday morning upside down in a tree well.

Whitefish Mountain Resort released a statement:

"We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident. Any death at our resort is an event that impacts the entire Whitefish Mountain Resort community. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends as they cope during this difficult time."

Whitefish Mountain Resort Public Relations Manager Riley Polumbus said when the powder is fresh, guests should take extra precautions.

"The best way to avoid this kind of tragedy is to avoid deep snow and trees completely, stay on groomed runs," Polumbus said. "However, if you are going to go enjoy the trees and the powder, you should always be skiing with someone else and always keep your partner in sight."

The last tree well death at Whitefish Mountain Resort was in 2014.

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