If he was skiing Blackfoot, he either ducked a rope or skied past "Closed" signs.
N.Y. man dies outside Targhee boundaries
By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
January 21, 2010
A New York man died of hypothermia Wednesday after he skied off the back side of Grand Targhee Resort and got lost in the South Leigh Creek area.
About 7:44 p.m. Tuesday, Edward Fitzgerald, who officials believe is 46 years old, called the Teton County, Idaho, Sheriff’s Department and told dispatchers he was skiing at Grand Targhee, had gone out of bounds and had become lost, according to a Teton County, Wyo., Sheriff’s Office statement. Officials believe Fitzgerald was from Forest Hills, N.Y., and was in Wyoming with a tour group, but his home address could not be confirmed Wednesday afternoon.
Fitzgerald called three times within a minute and, despite a poor signal, was able to tell dispatchers he had a Global Positioning System device but didn’t know how to use it. Fitzgerald also said he exited the resort after riding a double chairlift. Grand Targhee’s only double chairlift is the Blackfoot lift on the north side of the resort.
“He called 911 and said that he’d been at Targhee and had gone out of bounds and didn’t know where he was,” Teton County, Wyo., Search and Rescue coordinator Doug Meyer said. “[Fitzgerald] was trying to get some advice on how to get out of there.”
After the initial calls, Fitzgerald was not able to re-establish contact with rescue personnel.
“We didn’t know where he was and we were hoping he was going to call back again,” Meyer said.
Search and rescue personnel from Idaho and Wyoming began coordinating a search effort with Grand Targhee ski patrollers. Patrollers found ski tracks that might have belonged to Fitzgerald about 10:55 p.m. and followed them for about an hour but eventually called off the search for the night because of avalanche concerns, rough terrain and poor visibility, according to the sheriff’s office statement. Other rescue personnel searched by snowmobile but were unable to find Fitzgerald.
The next morning, rescue workers used the Teton County, Wyo., Search and Rescue Helicopter to search.
“At 8:45 [a.m.] we found him in the canyon unconscious and unresponsive,” Meyer said.
An automated external defibrillator did detect some slight signs of life in the form of electrical activity in the body, Meyer said.
“We gave him rescue breaths,” he said. “He was profoundly hypo-thermic.”
Meyer said rescue personnel did not use the defibrillator because its use is not advised until a patient has warmed up. Local rescue workers called for emergency helicopters from hospitals in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Pocatello, Idaho, but those helicopters were unable to fly because of weather.
Fitzgerald was later pronounced dead at St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson. Fitzgerald died of hypothermia, Teton County, Wyo., Coroner Bob Campbell said.
Fitzgerald had no survival equipment or warm clothing and did not appear to have tried to build a snow cave, Meyer said.
Rescue workers believe Fitzgerald fell into the creek, according to the statement from the Teton County, Wyo., Sheriff’s Office.
“We’ve had several people get lost there before,” Meyer said. “It’s a hard place to get out of.”