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A heli-skiing accident killed a woman who fell into a small creek and drowned when her helmet got stuck between two rocks in the water.

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TELLURIDE, Colo. --A heli-skiing accident killed a woman who fell into a small creek and drowned when her helmet got stuck between two rocks in the water.

  • Fifty-year-old Mary Scott King, of Huntington Beach, Calif., was snowboarding with a guide from Telluride Helitrax in the Mineral Creek Basin, just east of Ophir Pass, Saturday morning when she was negotiating a steep-slope traverse as she crossed a small creek.
  • The San Miguel County Sheriff's Office said King fell backward in the water and that her helmet became wedged between two rocks in the creek. Only her head was under water. Her legs and snowboard were on the bank.
  • "I immediately skied to the client and began extrication efforts,” said guide Hilaree O'Neill during a teleconference with reporters on Monday. "It took considerable effort to extricate Mary Scott (King)."
  • O'Neill said she had to dig through snow in order to reach King's head, which was wedged beneath an undercut rock just large enough to keep King's face wedged beneath 12 and 16 inches of water. The stream itself was less than 2 feet wide, leaving the guides with little room to work.
  • O'Neil said she tried to remove King's helmet, but her hands became numb in the ice-cold water.
  • "Her head became lodged; head and helmet were caught under a rock in the creek. Guides tried to pull her out and had a difficult time getting her out of the water," said San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters. “When they were finally able to get her out after about eight to 10 minutes, she was pulse-less, breathless." See Telluride Helitrax
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Masters called the death "one of those freak things."

  • O'Neil's fiance, Carlo Nafarrete, thanked rescuers for their efforts.
  • "My heartfelt thanks and prayers to all who attended to MaryScott, and also a special thanks to the community of Telluride at large for their overwhelming support and sympathy to both myself and the King family," he said. "I do thank Helitrax as well. And the Sheriff’s Department and all of the city services for their valiant effort. I don’t want that to go unnoticed. They did try -- they tried to save her, and I am forever grateful."
  • Heli-skiing is backcountry downhill skiing or snowboarding in which skiers and boarders are delivered by helicopter, not a ski lift.
  • King was on her second run of the day when she lost her balance and fell into the creek. She had proposed to her boyfriend the day before she died, the Orange County Register reported on Tuesday.
  • She was a former competitive speed skater and had done river rafting, cliff diving, rock climbing, and backpacking, according to a friend. King worked as a human resources specialist at Boeing.
  • By Aaron Rodriguez, Telluride Helitrax
  • http://www.linkedin.com/pub/aaron-rodriguez/9/b17/860