Family, friends honor skiers killed in Stevens Pass avalanche

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STEVENS PASS, Wash. —

Family and friends spent Tuesday at Stevens Pass remembering the three men that were killed there in an avalanche in 2012.

 

A group of experienced skiers were going down an out-of-bounds area of mountain when an avalanche swept John Brenan, Jim Jack, Chris Rudolf and a woman down a chute.

 

The woman deployed an air chute and stayed above the snow. Friends tried to pull the men out, but they were gone.

 

The loss devastated the skiing community.

 

KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Lee Stoll spoke with friends of the victims about the challenge of coming back to Stevens Pass.

 

Tracie Smith said she didn’t want the day to be about her loss but about the kind of life her friends loved to live.

 

“I kind of said, ‘Thanks boys for the sunshine, we needed this,’” said Smith.

 

The absence of the three men has affected many skiers.

 

 “Every time you get to that turn at Tunnel Creek, you get a lump in your throat. It’s hard to come around that corner and know that’s the last place your friends lived,” said Smith.

 

“I was crying. I miss those guys, you know?” said Sean Bole. “There have been a lot of good people lost lately. I don’t know if that’s slowing down anytime soon. So you just have to cherish every moment in the mountains.”

 

Friends, co-workers and relatives honored the victims Tuesday by spending the day skiing.

 

“Their memory is a reminder for us to live life to the fullest,” said Nils Riise.

 

Stevens Pass hopes to pass that legacy on. It donated half of Tuesday’s ticket sales to the memorial fund.  A generous offer, considering the ski resort  knew long ago the day would be busy because students are on midwinter break.

 

“We’re slated to raise, as of this point today, over $30,000 for the charity,” said Nate Escalona of Stevens Pass.

 

KIRO 7 was told nearly 3,000 people turned out on Tuesday, which is a large amount for a midweek day.