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Central Minnesota man buried in avalanche dies in New Mexico hospital

Corey Borg-Massanari. Submitted photo1 / 2
Corey Borg-Massanari. Submitted photo2 / 2

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A central Minnesota man died Monday evening after he was buried in an avalanche Thursday, Jan. 17, at a ski resort in New Mexico.

A news release from New Mexico Donor Services identified the Brainerd native as 22-year-old Corey Borg-Massanari.

The Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper reported the avalanche happened Thursday afternoon at a steep chute near the Kachina Peak Lift at Taos Ski Valley ski resort. A layer of snow broke free, slid down a chute and buried two skiers. The skiers were recovered from the snow and a 26-year-old Massachusetts man, Matthew Zonghetti, died at Holy Cross Hospital in Taos. Borg-Massanari was flown to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, where he died Monday.

“The family of Corey Borg-Massanari … would like to share that Corey has passed away at UNM Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico,” the release stated. “Corey brought joy to many and will continue to bring joy to others through his life-saving gift of organ donation.”

The ski resort stated in a news release the avalanche occurred just before noon Thursday in chute K3 near the top of the 12,481-foot Kachina Peak, the resort’s highest point.

Dozens of rescuers, including skiers and snowboarders who witnessed the tragedy, searched the piled snow at the base of the chute and dug the two men out just before 1 p.m.

In a statement, Taos Ski Valley said avalanche mitigation work was taking place throughout the season and just hours earlier in the area where the avalanche occurred.

Taos Ski Valley is 124 miles northeast of Albuquerque. Kachina Peak has one the highest chairlifts in North America.

Borg-Massanari was born in Pueblo, Colo., and was raised in Brainerd. He moved to Vail, Colo., where he attended Colorado Mountain College. While attending college, he worked at Patagonia in Vail Village and he would often go skiing on his lunch break, the statement noted. During the summer months, Borg-Massanari was a zip line tour guide at Zip Adventures at 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott, Colo.

“Corey was known for his smile, his quirky sense of humor and his unique sense of style,” according to the family’s statement. “He loved spending time with family and friends, and especially his fuzzy dog, Abu. Corey was an experienced and avid skier and loved the outdoors. He enjoyed camping, fishing, zip lining, snowmobiling, dirt biking and so much more. He liked working on his Jeep with his dad and learned the love of cooking from his mom.”

As of 6:30 p.m. Monday, a GoFundMe started by Borg-Massanari’s aunt had raised $10,925.

The family also encouraged everyone to register as organ donors in honor of Borg-Massanari at www.BeTheGiftToday.com.

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