Long weekend in Killington for search and rescue
By Brent Curtis | December 31,2012
KILLINGTON — By Sunday night, search and rescue crews including state police and other municipal services in town had been called to assist 13 skiers who went out of bounds at the resort over the weekend.
Starting Friday afternoon, when five skiers from New York and Massachusetts skied into the woods off the Glades trail and ending Sunday evening when two skiers were being guided out of the woods at 5 p.m., Vermont State Police and local crews devoted long hours and dozens of staff to search and rescue operations.
“This has taken up an extensive amount of resources,” State Police Sgt. Thomas Mozzer said.
In addition to the efforts of the state police, members of the Killington ski patrol, Killington Volunteer Fire Department, Vermont Fish and Game wardens and a local volunteer search and rescue team were called out for at least six different search missions.
The good news is that all of the skiers and snowboarders found their way out within hours of calling for help and no injuries were reported.
Like every other ski area, Killington marks the boundaries of its trail with ropes and signs that warn skiers against skiing out of bounds.
But when skiers decide not to heed those warnings they are almost always rescued with no repercussions to themselves.
That’s because a law requiring skiers to pay for their rescue expenses is rarely used.
Passed in 1996, the law allows state and municipal agencies, resorts and rescue organizations to recoup their expenses from a skier who “uses the facilities of a ski area to access terrain outside the open and designated ski trails.”
State Police billed skiers earlier in the decade but have abandoned the practice in the interest of safety, according to a state police official who said police don’t want to discourage lost skiers from calling for help.
On Friday afternoon — the day after a nor’easter littered the slopes with fresh powder — police received their first call for help.
After a six-hour search and rescue operation, police and ski patrol staff at the resort located William L. Markowitz, 20, and Charles D. Markowitz, 17, both of Mount Kisco, N.Y.; Michael Shaftany, 52, and Jamie Shaftany, 18, both of South Yarmouth, Mass.; and Todd Lebaugh, 46, of North Attleborough, Mass.
At 9:45 a.m. Saturday, police were called by Tyler Peters, 30, who skied off the Ridge Run trail at Killington resort. Using cellphones, police and ski patrollers were able to guide Peters out of the woods onto Wheelerville Road at about 11:15 a.m.
Later Satruday, Scott Barbarossa, 50, of Norwich, Conn., called for help for himself and his 11-year-old son after the pair skied into the woods off the Giant Killer ski trail at Pico. The search for Barbarossa and his son lasted more than eight hours and didn’t end until after 10 p.m.
On Sunday morning, police were called to assist 24-year-old Miguel Castro and Peter Dipietro, 25, both of Maryland, who became lost after skiing off Pico resort.
Later on Sunday, police were called by two Sagamore Beach, Mass., residents, Daniel Consoni and Andrew Massard, both 24, after the pair skied into the woods from Pico. After an hour, they emerged from the woods unscathed.
Information about the other lost skier wasn’t immediately available Sunday afternoon.
With the New Year’s holiday just ahead, Mozzer said police are appealing to skiers to remain on the trails.
“We’re asking them to stay inbounds and stay safe because if you ski out of bounds there’s a good chance you’ll be spending the night in the woods,” he said.