Updated: One dead, two injured in Haines skiing incident

Updated: March 5 at 7:oo a.m.

One person is dead and two are injured after a backcountry skiing accident near Haines on Sunday.

The Haines Police Department received an ambulance call Sunday afternoon to the Haines Airport where a helicopter brought an injured skier. The skier was transported to the Haines clinic where he was pronounced dead. Two injured skiers were also brought to the clinic. Haines police notified Alaska State Troopers, who is the lead investigating agency on the incident. A trooper arrived in Haines from Juneau on Monday, according to trooper spokesperson Megan Peters.

He’s been trying to do interviews; he was able to fly over the area to see it. He has a couple more interviews lined up before he leaves town and has to get back to Juneau,” Peters says.

Troopers identified the deceased as 34-year-old Christian Cabanilla of Haines.

Cabanilla is a guide with Haines heliski company Southeast Alaska Backcountry Adventures. But company owner, Scott Sundberg, said Monday Cabanilla was skiing recreationally with a group of skiers, and he was not the official guide of the group.

Sundberg said the two injured skiers were in stable condition on Monday. Both were medevaced to Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau and one of the skiers was later sent to the Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The group of five was skiing as part of a commercial tour with the company just west of Haines when the incident occurred, according to Sundberg. He said reports indicate the incident might have been caused by a massive cornice failure, but not an avalanche. Troopers’ preliminary findings are similar, Peters said.

And from what it sounds like, they were traversing an area and snow collapsed from under them, but I don’t know how far the fall was,” Peters says.

Unconfirmed reports describe a fourth member of ski group escaped injury when he deployed an inflatable airbag he was wearing. A fifth member was not involved in the fall.

Cabanilla’s biography on the company’s website says he is an international backcountry snowboard guide working in Alaska, Chilean Patagonia and Antarctica with more than a decade of experience in the Alaska heli-ski industry. It says he is also a commercial helicopter pilot in Alaska. He is originally from Vasalia, Calif.

This is Haines third heliskiing fatality in two years. Last year a guide and skier were killed in a March avalanche while skiing with a different company.

 

Original Story: March 3 at 11:16 p.m.

One person is dead and two are injured after a backcountry skiing accident near Haines on Sunday.

Alaska State Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters said troopers received a call from Haines Police on Sunday afternoon about an accident in the backcountry, although she didn’t know the exact location.

The Haines trooper is out of town on a patrol and wasn’t able to respond immediately. A trooper will arrive in Haines from Juneau on Monday to conduct an investigation, Peters said. Haines Police had no comment and referred questions to the troopers.

The deceased was identified by troopers as Christian Cabainilla. He is listed as a guide for the local heliskiing company, Southeast Alaska Backcountry Adventures, on its website. The company did not respond to messages on Sunday evening.

Cabainilla’s biography on the company’s website says he is an international backcountry snowboard guide working in Alaska, Chilean Patagonia and Antarctica with more than a decade of experience in the Alaska heli-ski industry. It says he is also a commercial helicopter pilot in Alaska.

Trooper spokeswoman Peters said she did not have any information on what caused the death and injuries or whether an avalanche had occurred. She said the two injured skiers had non-life-threatening injuries. Two medevac planes were seen arriving and leaving Haines on Sunday afternoon.

Peter’s said by the time the troopers received the call, everyone involved was already out of the field and in Haines receiving medical treatment.

This is Haines third heliskiing fatality in two years. Last year a guide and skier were killed in a March avalanche while skiing with a different company.

Recent headlines

  • dollar bill money macro

    Per diems driving special session costs

    Lawmakers who represent areas outside Juneau receive $295 for each day of the special session. Juneau lawmakers receive $221.25 per day.
  • Caroline Hoover proudly pins an Alaska Territorial Guard medal on the front of her father's parka during an official discharge ceremony held Oct. 17 in Kipnuk, Alaska. David Martin is one of three surviving members of the Alaska Territorial Guard's Kipnuk unit. A total of 59 residents of Kipnuk, who volunteered to defend Alaska in the event of a Japanese invasion during World War II, were recognized during the ceremony. Kipnuk residents who served with the Alaska Territorial Guard from 1942-1947 were members of a U.S. Army component organized in response to attacks by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor. (Photo by Jerry Walton, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs cultural resource manager and native liaison/public domain/Wikimedia Commons)

    16 Alaska Territorial Guard vets to be honored in Anchorage

    Sixteen veterans of the Alaska Territorial Guard will be honored at a discharge ceremony today. Four of them are from Western Alaska.
  • Don Andrew Roguska looks out from an upstairs window of an historic Juneau house he bought in 2016 to restore. Zoning regulations have prevented him from rebuilding in the same style. (Photo by Jacob Resneck/KTOO)

    Juneau mulls relaxing zoning rules for historic houses

    The historic houses in Juneau and Douglas were predominately built by miners and fishermen long before today's zoning was put into place. That's prevented homeowners from restoring or rebuilding homes in these neighborhoods without running into conflict with the city's zoning laws -- a temporary fix may be on the way.
  • Young joins Afghanistan war skeptics in Congress

    Alaska U.S. Rep. Don Young wants to know why Americans are still fighting in Afghanistan. He has co-sponsored a bill that would end funding for the war in a year, unless the president and Congress affirm the need for it.
X