Seattle skier suffocates in tree well on Crystal Mountain

CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN, Wash. -- A 35-year-old Seattle skier died Wednesday when he fell into tree well on Crystal Mountain and suffocated.

A skier approached the resort's ski patrol just before 2:30 p.m. to say her skiing partner was missing. The missing man was last seen an hour and a half earlier in an area of the mountain known as Dick's Face, according to the ski patrol.

Members of the ski patrol immediately went looking for the man, and they soon found some equipment near the base of a tree.

They took a closer look and spotted the man unresponsive in the tree well. They dug him out and began CPR, but the man did not survive.

It appears the victim died from snow immersion suffocation, which the ski patrol says can happen when "a skier or snowboarder falls - usually headfirst - into a tree well or deep loose snow and becomes immobilized and trapped under the snow and suffocates."

"This serves as an unfortunate and sad reminder of how important it is to ski and ride with a partner, and keep them in sight, especially where there's a lot of new and unsettled snow," Paul Baugher, Ski Patrol Director, said in a Wednesday news release.

Crystal Mountain Resort received 19 inches of snow in the past 24 hours, and a total of 94 inches in the past 9 days.