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County Sheriff Checking Ski Accident 49 Degrees North Fatality Investigation Called Routine

The Stevens County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a New Year’s Day skiing accident that killed a Spokane college student.

“I have assigned some detectives to do an investigation to determine whether there is anything from a criminal standpoint,” Sheriff Craig Thayer said.

Thayer said the investigation into the 49 Degrees North ski resort death is routine.

There is no reason to suspect foul play, the sheriff said.

Meanwhile, a Spokane man remained in fair condition Monday after suffering an unknown injury Dec. 30 while skiing at Schweitzer Mountain.

Alonzo H. White was treated by a doctor on the Schweitzer ski patrol and later underwent brain surgery at Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene.

White is director of regional support services for Washington State University.

In the 49 Degrees North incident, resort officials said Whitworth College student Karen Gallaway, 19, was struck in the head by a 17-year-old Spokane boy after she fell and was partially obscured by a mound of snow. Gallaway died three days later at Deaconess Medical Center in Spokane.

Her memorial service was Monday night.

The boy who hit her works parttime tuning skis at the Wintersport ski shop in Spokane. His name has not been released.

“He is the best 17-year-old I know,” shop manager Jeff Spray said. “He is a fine young man and a solid skier.”

The accident was not reported to the sheriff’s department. But authorities in Washington and Idaho said there is no requirement to report skiing accidents to police.

Denny Burmeister, general manager at 49 Degrees North, said he was surprised by the sheriff’s decision to investigate.

“If a kid gets seriously injured on the football field, does the sheriff come down and take measurements?” he asked. “We have accidents in skiing, but we’re not intentionally trying to knock people down.”

Under Idaho law, questions of wrongdoing on ski slopes are limited to deliberate assaults, said Bonner County sheriff’s Lt. Doug Harris.

“I haven’t seen any law where you could charge someone with negligent skiing,” he said.

Still, he said the sheriff’s department wants Schweitzer Mountain to report serious accidents as soon as possible, and the ski resort near Sandpoint generally has done that.

, DataTimes



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