Palisades Tahoe avalanche kills 1 in Olympic Valley

One person was killed, and several others were injured in an avalanche at the Palisades Tahoe ski resort on Wednesday morning, officials said.

The Placer County Sheriff's Office identified the victim as 66-year-old Kenneth Kidd. He was a resident of both Point Reyes and the Truckee Tahoe area. 

A Palisades Tahoe spokesperson said the slide happened around 9:30 a.m. on the Palisades side of the mountain, above the GS bowl area of KT-22.

The KT-22 lift had just opened on Wednesday for the first time this winter, and this area serves expert skiers.

More than 100 search and rescue personnel combed the area to see if anyone was injured or trapped.

Sgt. David Smith, a spokesperson for the Placer County sheriff, said hours later that a man died, and another person sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Olympic Valley Fire Chief Brad Chisholm said the injured person suffered a lower leg injury.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with their family members at this difficult time," said the sheriff's office in a statement.

The resort and adjoining Alpine Meadows ski slopes will be closed due to the avalanche.

"This is a very sad day for my team and everyone here," said President and CEO Dee Byrne over the tragedy. 

The Lake Tahoe region experienced heavy snowfall Wednesday and throughout the weekend. According to the Sierra Avalanche Center, there was a "considerable" risk of avalanches for Wednesday and Thursday for mountains in the central Sierra Nevada.

"Avalanche danger will quickly increase today with avalanches occurring in a variety of areas by this afternoon," their forecast said. "A period of high avalanche danger may occur in the early evening hours."

SEE ALSO: Sierra Nevada ski patrol trains for avalanche rescue

Michael Gross, vice president of mountain operations at Palisades Tahoe, said that ski patrol had been conducting avalanche control work and assessing weather conditions on KT-22 since Sunday.

In anticipation of KT-22's opening, the crew had been actively "setting up all the safety markings, hazard markings," according to Gross.

However, tragedy still occurred despite these precautions.

A 2020 avalanche at nearby Alpine Meadows killed one skier and seriously injured another a day after a major storm, as reported by the Associated Press. Another avalanche at Alpine Meadows in March 1982 killed seven people, including several employees of the ski resort.

The exact cause of Wednesday's avalanche remains under investigation.