Pals having reunion when fatal slide hit
Vail, CO Colorado
DENVER (AP) ” A long-awaited reunion of three college friends turned tragic when a massive avalanche killed two of them during a backcountry skiing trip in the Colorado mountains, family members said Wednesday.
Alexis Michel Dodin of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Simon Martin Ozanne of Maplewood, N.J., were killed Tuesday afternoon when the category 5 avalanche ” the most dangerous kind ” crashed down on them about five miles southeast of Aspen, authorities said.
Their friend Jason Luck, from the Denver suburb of Aurora, survived and called for help.
All three had attended the Colorado School of Mines outside Denver. For Ozanne, 35, the trip was a Christmas gift from his wife Jennifer, who is pregnant with their first child.
“We’re having a baby, and this was his chance to get out there for one more time. He loved the mountains, he loved being out there,” Jennifer Ozanne said. “I gave him this trip for Christmas …. He was doing something he loved.”
Dodin, 32, was a French citizen and a resident of Buenos Aires who carried a Houston driver’s license, Pitkin County sheriff’s patrol director Jeff Lumsden said. A listed telephone number for Dodin in Houston was disconnected.
There was no answer at a telephone number listed for Luck, 33.
Jennifer Ozanne said her husband grew up in England and came to the U.S. to attend the School of Mines, graduating in 1999 with a master’s degree in engineering. He moved to New York as a partner in the international management consulting firm Marakon Associates.
“He was an incredibly loyal and thoughtful person who worked hard and had a huge zest for life,” she said.
Jennifer Ozanne said Luck was extremely distraught by the deaths. She said he called personally to give her the news.
“He wouldn’t let anyone else do it,” she said.
A friend, Chris Russell, said Ozanne was a strong person who was devoted to his friends and wife and enjoyed working on his new home.
“He was just a spectacular guy,” Russell said. “This sort of thing shouldn’t happen to anybody.”
Lumsden said the avalanche was about two football fields wide and broke away at about 11,500 feet above sea level in the White River National Forest. He said it was probably naturally occurring.
“I think they didn’t even trigger this thing,” Lumsden said. “I think they were just standing there and the whole thing just came down.”
The three had planned to ski to the top of a mountain and back down, but by mid-afternoon the snowpack had become extremely unstable, Lumsden said.
“People pretty much know in our area they’re encouraged to be pretty much done by noon,” Lumsden said. “I tend not to go out this time of year. It’s a crapshoot.”
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center said five people have been killed by avalanches in the state this season, compared with four in 2005-06. The average is six per season, the center said.
The center said avalanches kill about 28 people a year nationwide.
The other deaths this season were a skier near Snowmass on Dec. 21, a snowmobiler in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado on Feb. 4 and a snowshoer on March 3 south of Idaho Springs in the central mountains.
A large avalanche pushed two cars off the heavily traveled road at Berthoud Pass north of Interstate 70 on Jan. 6, but there were no deaths.