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Durango man dies while skiing at Purgatory Resort

Unknown if man hit tree or suffered some other medical emergency
A 73-year-old man died while skiing Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, at Purgatory Resort. A Flight For Life helicopter landed near the base of Lift 3 on the backside of the mountain as part of the response. (Courtesy of Patrick Dawson)

A 73-year-old Durango man died Monday while skiing at Purgatory Resort, according to emergency responders.

La Plata County Coroner Jann Smith identified the man as Richard “Rick” Boebel.

The crash occurred about 11:20 a.m. on Lower Peace trail (an intermediate run), which is near the base of Lift 3, on the backside of the mountain, according to Purgatory Resort.

A bystander initiated CPR and ski patrollers were on scene providing medical attention within six minutes of the notification, according to Purgatory Resort. The man was eventually taken to the bottom of Lift 3, where he was loaded onto a Flight For Life helicopter.

La Plata County Sheriff’s Lt. Pat Downs said the man lived in Durango for about six years.

“No one actually saw it happen,” Downs said. “They're not sure if he hit a tree or had a medical emergency that led to his death.”

Patrick Dawson said he was one of the first to arrive on scene and offer lifesaving efforts.

“We had a pulse for a little while but we kept losing it,” said Dawson, who is an OB/GYN from Milwaukee visiting on a ski vacation.

Dawson said it was difficult to know what happened, but from the looks of the situation he suspects Dawson suffered a medical emergency.

“I suspect that had a medical episode, crashed to the ground and kind of busted his face a little bit in the crash, but the crash was secondary to whatever happened,” Dawson said.

According to The Durango Herald archives, Boebel was active with Seniors Outdoors and was preparing to ride the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic from Durango to Silverton in 2021.

Bill Babcock, left, and Rick Boebel lead a group of Seniors Outdoors riders May 6, 2021, up County Road 203 as they get their legs in shape for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

“The entire Purgatory Resort community sends its deepest sympathy and support to the family and friends of the skier involved in this tragic accident,” the resort said in a statement emailed to the Herald.

It was at least the second skier death this year at Purgatory Resort.

On Jan. 5, Kenneth “Greg” Riddle, 64, died near the intersection of Sa’s Psyche (a beginner run) and El Diablo (an intermediate run) on the front side of the mountain. Skiers found him unresponsive, and it did not appear as if he hit anything.


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