UPDATE - Whitman College student dies in skiing accident at Bluewood

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UPDATE

DAYTON — A Whitman College student died Saturday in a skiing accident at Ski Bluewood.

Whitman College President George Bridges confirmed the death in a release to the Whitman community late Saturday, according to the Whitman College newspaper, the Pioneer. First-year student Richard O’Brien, of Davis, Calif., died after striking a tree at the popular ski resort.

O’Brien was at Ski Bluewood as part of group of Whitman College students, although it was not a school-sponsored activity, Ruth Wardwell, director of communications, said this morning.

Ski Bluewood owner Stan Goodell confirmed Sunday that a 19-year-old man died Saturday of head injuries sustained at the resort shortly after noon.

Reading from a statement, Goodell said the young man was on the Huckleberry run, an intermediate run, when he caught an edge of his skis on the snow and struck a tree along the side.

Columbia County ambulances were dispatched, including a MedStar helicopter, but the man died in the ski patrol room, Goodell said. Goodell confirmed the man was wearing a helmet.

O’Brien’s parents arrived in Walla Walla today to meet with Bridges and Dean of Students Chuck Cleveland, Wardwell said. There may be a decision to have some sort of memorial service on campus for students and faculty, "based in part on what the parents want or students do on their own," she added.

The death is wrenching for the school, Wardwell said. "Whitman is such a close, close community, that whether or not any of us knew the individual, we hurt."

Prior story

DAYTON - A Whitman College student died Saturday in a skiing accident at Ski Bluewood, officials said.

Whitman College President George Bridges confirmed the death in a release to the Whitman community late Saturday, according to the Whitman College newspaper the Pioneer. First-year student Richard O'Brien, of Davis, Calif., died after striking a tree at the popular ski resort.

Ski Bluewood owner Stan Goodell confirmed this morning that a 19-year-old man died Saturday of head injuries sustained at the resort shortly after 12 p.m.

Reading from a statement, Goodell said the young man was on the Huckleberry run, an intermediate run, when he caught an edge of his skis on the snow and struck a tree along the side.

Columbia County ambulances were dispatched, including a MedStar helicopter, but the man died in the ski patrol room, Goodell said. Goodell also confirmed the man was wearing a helmet, but would not confirm the name this morning pending his own confirmation with the family.

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