Avalanche at Lake Tahoe ski resort kills one person, seriously injures another

The disaster happened at the Alpine Meadows Ski Resort in California, Placer County Sheriff's deputies said.

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By David K. Li

An avalanche in Northern California killed one skier and seriously injured another Friday, following heavy snow fall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, authorities said.

The disaster unfolded at 10:16 a.m. at the Alpine Meadows Ski Resort's Subway ski run near Lake Tahoe, officials said.

"We have one confirmed fatality, and we have another victim with serious injuries," Placer County Sheriff's Sgt. Mike Powers said.

Following an hours-long search by deputies, skiers with the Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue and dogs specially trained for avalanche searches, first responders ended their operation about 1 p.m.

"After a thorough search, SAR volunteers and avalanche dogs confirmed no further victims," the sheriff's department said.

A snow cat grooms one of the slopes at Alpine Meadows Ski Resort near Tahoe City, Calif., on June 30, 2011.Rich Pedroncelli / AP file

A male skier sustained fatal injuries, and "a second male skier sustained severe lower-body injuries and was transported to the hospital by ambulance," the resort said in a statement.

Cole Comstock, 34, of Blairsden, California, was killed in the avalanche, the sheriff’s office said.

"Cole was the most kind-hearted and caring person to his friends and even strangers," his wife, Caitlin, said in a statement.

"He loved skiing and loved living life" and "deeply loved his friends, his family, and above all his wife," she said.

As of midday Friday, Alpine Meadows had reported 18 inches of snowfall in the last 24 hours. And in neighboring Squaw Valley, 25 inches of snow had fallen in the last 24 hours.

Alpine Meadows Ski Resort is on the California side of Lake Tahoe, about 115 miles northeast of downtown Sacramento and about 45 miles southwest of Reno, Nevada.

Jareen Imam, Steve Strouss, John Cheang and Phil Helsel contributed.