Ex-Valley man a ski patrol victim
MAMMOTH LAKES – A Granada Hills man was among three ski patrol members who died on an Eastern Sierra peak, likely asphyxiated by gas spewing from the volcanic vent they were fencing off, a coroner said Friday. One of the dead was a 34-year veteran of the Mammoth Mountain patrol who died trying to reach the other two after they fell into the vent. Another patrolman who followed was saved by a colleague who held his breath, jumped in and attached a rescue rope, a resort official said. The trio likely were asphyxiated as oxygen was displaced by carbon dioxide gas, said Mono County coroner Ralph Obenberger. Autopsies and tests were pending. The dead were identified as James Juarez, 35, a five-year patrol veteran originally from Granada Hills; John “Scott” McAndrews, 37, of Bishop, who had been on the patrol one year; and Charles Walter Rosenthal, 58, of Sunny Slopes, a university researcher and snow expert who had been with the patrol since 1972. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventRosenthal went in first to try to get the others “without regard for his life, probably knowing more than the others about the dangers,” said Rusty Gregory, chief executive officer of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. The tragedy unfolded at late morning Thursday high on 11,053-foot Mammoth Mountain, a dormant volcano 190 miles east of San Francisco that towers over a valley formed by a giant eruption 760,000 years ago. Known as the “stink hole” because of its rotten-egg smell, the vent on Christmas Bowl run is a well-known natural hazard that is surrounded by a plastic net fence to keep skiers away. The latest of storms that have dropped a record 52 feet of snow on Mammoth this season had all but buried the fence, and the ski patrol went to the site to raise the fence before opening the area. The patrol was repositioning the fence 50 feet upslope when the snow collapsed, dropping Juarez and McAndrews 21 feet through the snow to the vent, Gregory said. “The first initial patrollers were overcome quickly within a minute or two,” Gregory said. “They were conversant upon falling and landing, and asking for help and then were silent within a minute or two.” The veteran Rosenthal made the first rescue attempt, carrying oxygen that had been brought to the scene.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!