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Snowboarder dies after Spirit Mountain accident

A 20-year-old man died Sunday as a result of injuries suffered in a snowboarding accident at Spirit Mountain Recreation Area in Duluth.

The incident occurred around 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Spirit Mountain’s Big Air Terrain Park, said Brandy Ream, the ski area’s executive director.

The man was snowboarding with his friends, who were waiting for him at the bottom of the hill after a run, Ream said. When he didn’t come down, his friends went to look for him, and they found him on the ground off to the side near the bottom of a run.

Ream said the Spirit Mountain Ski Patrol was notified and immediately responded to the scene, where they began administering emergency medical care. The patient was loaded into a Gold Cross ambulance at 1:40 p.m. at the Grand Ave Chalet and transported to Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center where he was pronounced dead later Sunday.

Ream said she was not at liberty to disclose anything further about the accident, but she did confirm that the victim was visiting from outside the area and was snowboarding on the second day of a two-day pass he had purchased.

“This is a terrible tragedy, our condolences to the family and friends at this time,” Ream said in a statement.

She said Spirit Mountain continues to investigate the incident and further details will be provided, probably in a matter of days.

The Big Air Terrain Park, considered one of the best in the Midwest, is designed for experienced snowboarders and skiers with a large half-pipe and big jumps. Spirit Mountain has two other, smaller terrain parks for younger and less experienced skiers and snowboarders.

It appears to be the first death at Spirit Mountain in six years. In February 2012, a 12-year-old Grantsburg, Wis. boy died after striking a tree while skiing.

In January, 2007 a 28-year-old Richfield, Minn., man died after he hit a tree.

Another death was reported in January 1991.

In January 1986, a 13-year-old Duluth East High School alpine team member died after hitting a tree on a training run. She apparently lost control after hitting a slalom gate.

In January 1985, a 24-year-old New Hope, Minn., man died of complications four days after he broke both legs when he hit a tree on the slope.

In February 1985, a 22-year-old St. Cloud, Minn., man died after rupturing a heart vessel and his spleen when he hit a tree.

News Tribune staff writer Peter Passi contributed to this report.

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