The unedited version of a story that will appear in tomorrow’s News Tribune and Olympian:
A 67-year-old Olalla man died Friday, two days after falling while skiing in Crystal Mountain’s new terrain park
Don Burkhart, an avid outdoorsman and expert skier, reportedly severed his spinal cord and was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. A hospital nurse confirmed his death on Friday night.
According to a family friend, the family had been waiting for some relatives to travel to Seattle before removing Burkhart from life support.
Crystal Mountain has not had an inbounds skiing-related fatality in almost eight years.
“Don was a good man and he was very athletic,” said Richard Wheeler, Burkhart’s friend and former skiing partner. “He climbed Mount Rainier and stayed in good shape. He was a husband, a father, a grandfather and a wonderful friend.”
Burkhart was skiing in the terrain park Wednesday morning when he went over a roller and fell, said Paul Baugher, director of Crystal’s ski patrol.
“He landed wrong, fell hard and suffered a catastrophic injury,” Baugher said.
While he was skiing in the enclosed Sasquatch Jib Park, Burkhart was not using the box and rail features when he fell, Baugher said. The terrain park has no jumps and was built in December on an intermediate run called Mr. Magoo, Baugher said.