A 21-year-old Pennsylvania man died Wednesday afternoon after he hit a tree while snowboarding at Holiday Valley Resort, according to a resort spokesman.
Connor English was taken by ambulance to Olean General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:21 p.m., according to Cleon Easton III, Cattaraugus County coroner.
“The cause of death was internal injuries due to blunt-force trauma,” Easton said. “His brother said he hit some moguls and then he ended up in the woods.”
English, who is from the Warren, Pa., area, was an environmental studies major at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.
He was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident and was boarding with his brother and some friends, Easton said.
The accident occurred at about 1:30 p.m., said Jane Eshbaugh, director of marketing at Holiday Valley.
“The individual apparently lost control while snowboarding, went off the trail and collided with a tree,” Eshbaugh said.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends,” she said. “We are saddened by the tragic occurrence and loss of life.”
It was the first reported fatality at Holiday Valley since a skier and a snowboarder were killed in 2008.
That March, Robert A. Cunningham, a 62-year-old Erie Community College biology professor from Hamburg, struck a tree while skiing on one of the expert “black diamond” runs. In February of that year, snowboarder Leon Carr, 29, of Grand Island, was killed when he also lost control and ran into a tree.
There have now been five fatalities on Holiday Valley’s trails since 2003, all involving skiers or snowboarders striking trees. Three of the victims were not wearing helmets.
Easton, who has been a coroner for 24 years, said, “It was the third fatal accident I’ve handled involving a skier or snowboarder hitting a tree. There are usually collisions with something, usually trees. A helmet may help if you fall in the snow. Trees don’t move.”