Member of Mt. Ashland Ski Patrol hits tree, dies in back country

23-year-old Johnathan Walker, a member of the Mt. Ashland Ski Patrol, died Saturday afternoon following an accident with a tree well in the back country area of Mt. Ashland. (Photo courtesy of the Mt. Ashland Ski Area)

Update 2/17/19: The victim has been identified as Johnathan Patrick Likeke Walker, 23. Walker lived and worked locally, but lived previously in Yakima, Wash. The autopsy has been postponed until Monday, according to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.

The Mt. Ashland Ski Area released a statement Sunday, reading in part, "Johnny Walker was a Man of the Mountains, strong in the outdoors and many other areas of his life."

According to the ski area, the accident involved a tree well.

The release went on to say that Walker was an avid surfer and a core member of the Mt. Ashland Ski Patrol.

“Johnny was an exceptional person in every aspect of life,” said General Manger Hiram Towle in the release. “His drive and determination to be the best, no matter what the challenge, was an inspiration to us all. He had a thirst for fun and adventure unlike anyone I have known. With his smile and charm you simply couldn’t have a bad day with Johnny around.”

“Johnny Walker was my close friend and coworker,” said Ski Patrol Director Doug Volk. “He was a skilled Patroller, always ready to answer any call of duty. He was an accomplished surfer that lived his life as if riding a wave, all that mattered was the moment and the turn, he loved that. He will truly be missed by all of our mountain community. His infectious humor, smile, and good will left us too soon. Aloha Johnny.”

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Original post: A 23-year-old man died Saturday afternoon after reportedly colliding with a tree while skiing on Mt. Ashland. He was a member of the Mt. Ashland Ski Patrol.

The 911 call came in just after 1:30, reporting a skiing accident on the south side of the mountain, outside the boundaries of the Mt. Ashland Ski Area. Jackson County Sheriff's Office (JCSO) deputies responded to the ski area, along with personnel from Ashland Fire & Rescue.

Deputies learned the victim was among a group of Mt. Ashland Ski Patrol members skiing in the back country. The victim's fellow ski patrol members rendered aid and transported him back up the slope to the ski area.

Medical personnel continued resuscitation until he was pronounced dead at 3:37 p.m.

The Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office is investigating the cause and manner of death. An autopsy is planned for Sunday.

The victim's next-of-kin has been notified. His name will be released at a later time to allow additional family to be notified.

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