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Death of 7-year-old boy who fell off Tahoe ski lift probed

December 22, 2011 |  4:39 pm

Photo: Skiers ride chair lift at nearby Donner Ski Ranch, a Lake Tahoe area ski resort. The accident occurred at Sugar Bowl. Credit: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles.
The death of a 7-year-old boy who fell 52 feet from a chair lift at a Lake Tahoe ski resort is under investigation.

John Henderson, a second-grader and a seasoned skier, was riding with fellow members of a local ski team Sunday when he fell off the Mount Lincoln Express chair lift at Sugar Bowl, a popular ski resort near Squaw Valley, the Sacramento Bee reported.

The youth died two days later at a Reno hospital from  head trauma, the medical examiner’s office in Washoe County, Nev., reported.

Members of the Sugar Bowl Ski Patrol are interviewing witnesses and members of the ski team to piece together what happened. The boy was wearing a helmet when he fell, officials said.

"We're a close community, and we're devastated for John and his family," Bill Hudson, the ski team's executive director, told the Bee. "We're really just focusing on what we can do as a community to support them at this time."

He said the boy was a proficient skier and a second-year member of the Sugar Bowl Ski Team, which offers programs for youths 5 to 18.

The youngster was the son of Mark Henderson, associate dean of the medical school at UC Davis, and Helen Chew, leader of the UC Davis Cancer Center clinical breast cancer program, the newspaper reported.

 His family released a statement to the Bee on Wednesday evening saying that John "was always an active and rambunctious child" who dreamed of becoming an astronaut, or an inventor.

The National Ski Areas Assn. says an average of 40 fatalities occur at U.S. ski resorts a year.

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-- Steve Marble

Photo: Skiers ride chair lift at nearby Donner Ski Ranch, a Lake Tahoe area ski resort. The accident occurred at Sugar Bowl. Credit: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles.

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