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Snowboarder who died after falling into tree well is identified

March 20, 2012 |  6:06 pm

Coroner’s officials have identified a man killed Monday in a snowboarding accident when he fell into a tree well on an advanced snowboarding run.

Justin McCollum, 20, of Roseville, Calif., was an employee at the Sugar Bowl ski resort in the Lake Tahoe area, authorities said. He fell behind his friends on a double black diamond run and fell into a pile of snow that surrounded a tree. 

“They waited at the bottom of the run,” said Placer County coroner’s spokeswoman Dena Erwin. “But he did not come back.”

Erwin said the man’s friends took a ski lift back to the top of the run and went down it again to look for McCollum; they discovered him in the tree well. They pulled him out and called paramedics, but McCollum was pronounced dead at the scene.

Erwin said that examiners plan to conduct an autopsy on McCollum, and officials will release the cause of death at that time.

Erwin said this is not the first tree well-related incident. She said snowboarders sometimes fall head-first into the loose snow and can suffocate.

McCollum was one of three men who died snowboarding or skiing Sunday and Monday.  

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--Matt Stevens

Twitter.com/mattstevenslat

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