Hannah Randolph Dies In Ski Mishap: Wellesley Teen Twelfth Dead In Colorado
Randolph, 15, from Wellesley, Colo., was killed in a skiing accident on Sunday when she slammed into a tree at the Copper Mountain Resort in Frisco. The Wellesley High School freshman is the twelfth skier to die in a ski mishap in 2012, prompting concerns that dangerous conditions on the slopes could create a deadly pattern for snow sport enthusiasts. Wiki Commons

Hannah Randolph, 15, from Wellesley, Mass., was killed in a skiing accident on Sunday when she slammed into a tree at the Copper Mountain Resort in Frisco.

Randolph was skiing with her family around 1:45 p.m. when the accident occurred.

She was skiing on an expert run and caught an edge, Deputy Chief Coroner Regan Wood told The Boston Globe. It was blunt force trauma.

'We're all reeling.'

Witnesses saw Randolph, who was a member of the Wellesley High School ski team, veer off course and hit a tree. She was taken to the Copper Mountain Clinic, where she was pronounced dead two hours later. She was wearing a helmet.

In addition to being an experienced skier, Hannah Randolph was an accomplished artist and a soccer player. She also sang in the school choir.

We're all reeling and just devastated right now, Andrew Keough, principal of Wellesley High School, told The Boston Herald.

People tell me that she went out of her way to reach out to the kids who were less popular or who might be alone.

Twelfth Death This Year

Hannah Randolph's death on a black diamond run occurred the same day that two avalanches claimed the lives of three skiers and one snowboarder in back-country areas near Stevens Pass Resort in Washington.

But the Colorado ski slopes, which claim about a dozen deaths each year, have been particularly savage in 2011-2012, according to the Denver Westword, with skiing and snowboarding accidents now responsible for an average of a death a week.

At this rate, skiers and riders will beat the annual record of seventeen deaths in 2007-2008 by April. Hannah Randolph's death makes her the twelfth skier to die at a Colorado resort in 2012.

And when it comes to avalanches, six of those skiers were killed by landslides--and two of those deaths occurred in-bounds at ski areas.

No 'Rhyme Or Reason' To Accidents

Despite the unusually high number of deaths in Colorado this year, however, industry officials insist that it is not a dangerous trend, and that the best way to prevent injury or death is to be prepared and well-equipped.

[Ski deaths] are unfortunate, but they are also isolated, Jennifer Rudolph, a spokeswoman for Ski Country USA, told the Denver Westword when it wrote about the disturbing pattern two weeks ago. There's no specific cause or trend or rhyme or reason.

Skiing is inherently risky, she added. Skiers and snowboarders need to be responsible for their own safety.

Experts Advise Caution

Certainly, there are steps snow sport enthusiasts can take to protect themselves, especially from the risk of an avalanche.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center in Boulder monitors avalanche conditions in ten zones around the Western state, and updates its findings daily. According to the map on the CAIC's web site, significant portions of the state devoted to snow sports like skiing or snowboarding are at considerable or high risk of snow slides like avalanches.

Experts advise skiers to ski with partners, avoid the back-country, travel one at a time across unknown areas, and always carry proper equipment, including an avalanche beacon, a shovel, a probe and an avalanche backpack, which includes an airbag like the one that saved Elyse Saugstad up in Washington State on Sunday.

Even with these precautions, however, tragedy can strike, and not just in the case of young skiers like Hannah Randolph.

Last Monday, Nathaneal Soules from Telluride, Colo., was killed while skiing in in Little Bear Creek. Soules was an expert skier, and was wearing all the proper safety equipment, including a backpack with a BCA airbag. Soules was skiing alone. He was found by two other skiers, buried under four feet of snow.

For more information about skiing safety, and conditions in Colorado, visit the CAIC web site.