Third run down Vermont trail was fatal for Mass. snowboarder
A 29-year-old Cambridge man died in a snowboarding accident at Jay Peak Resort in northern Vermont Saturday, resort officials said today.
Sylvan Walton had just cleared the steepest, most difficult part of a black diamond trail when he slipped and hit his head on the ground at about 11:30 a.m. He then veered off the trail and struck a tree, according to Bill Stenger, the resort’s president.
“When he fell we believe his head contacted the snow quite hard,” Stenger said in a telephone interview. “His injuries were quite traumatic. He had a substantive head injury and he also had, we believe, an injury to his chest.”
A team of at least six Jay Peak Ski Patrol workers arrived moments after the accident and attempted to revive Walton, continuously performing CPR until an ambulance reached them. But Stenger said Walton had no pulse and wasn’t breathing.
A statement from Vermont State Police said Walton was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.
Walton had been staying at the resort with a few friends who told Stenger that the Cambridge resident was an experienced snowboarder, but hadn’t been down any slopes in the past two years.
“This was not something new to him,” Stenger said. “This is just a tragic accident.”
Walton and his friends had already snowboarded down the complete trail twice that morning. On the third attempt, he cleared the upper portion, which Stenger said is rated advanced for its difficulty, but slipped when he reached the intermediate-level section of the course.
Stenger said fatalities are rare at Jay Peak -- a resort that attracts about 300,000 skiers and snow sport enthusiasts each winter -- with only about one every two years. The last death, a male skier who ran into a tree, occurred roughly two years ago.
“Frankly most fatalities that occur in our sport are a result of collisions with trees,” Stenger said, adding that the resort staff was surprised and grief-stricken at the news of Walton’s death. “He was a young man and our hearts go out to his family.”
Walton’s co-workers at Wayfair, the Boston-based corporate parent to the Joss & Main retail website where Walton worked as a merchandiser, were shocked by news of his death.
“It’s devastating, people are finding out about it now via email,” Wayfair spokesman Chuck Casto said this evening. “It’s a very close-knit group at Wayfair.”
Casto said he was close with Walton, who had helped launch Joss & Main two years ago.
“He honestly was a very sweet guy, very sincere,” he said in a brief telephone interview. “He was really a very hard worker, a very dedicated young guy, very well respected among his team.”