A man who was caught on camera being swallowed by an avalanche he triggered could face criminal punishment.
Christian Mares, 29, was snowboarding with friends Jan. 15 at Sugar Bowl Resort in Norden, Calif. near Lake Tahoe, when he was engulfed by cascading snow.
Mares recorded the incident on a head-mounted camera, which captures him jumping off a peak onto a slope below.
As he lands, a friend’s camera shows the layers of ice and snow give way and begin to carry Mares down the hill.
Mares’ head cam recorded the harrowing experience from inside the avalanche, as he struggled to stay at the surface.
The story went viral after Mare posted the video to the internet.
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Despite the attention online, the resort is taking the stunt seriously.
Sugar Bowl Resort described the area Mares and his friends were snowboarding in as a “very active avalanche area.”
The hill is called Perco’s, a portion of the East Palisades mountain, and has been closed since 2010.
“Mares put himself, his friends, ski patrol and the skiing public at risk,” said John Monson, marketing director for the ski resort.
The resort requested police investigate the incident, saying Mares snowboarded in a closed ski area.
“Those closure signs are there for a reason,” said Monson. “This is all about safety, and us wanting to make sure and ensure that we always keep our skiing public as safe as possible.”
Sgt. Dave Hunt confirmed the Placer County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident, and hopes to turn the case over to the District Attorney’s Office next week.
Hunt said a trespassing charge could be laid.
In an interview with CBS, Mares defended his actions.
“I would never do it on purpose. Not because it’s dangerous, but because it’s illegal,” he said.
Mares claimed he was just trying to have fun.
“I’m not trying to go out there and die. Who wants to go out there and be like, ‘Hey, I’m going to go die today.’”
Mares also suggested the Sugar Bowl’s request for a criminal investigation is in reaction to the disappearance of one of their employees a day before Mares triggered the avalanche.
Carson May, 23, a ski instructor at the resort, was off duty when he went missing while skiing last Thursday.
“What happened with Carson is bad publicity for them, because he works for them and he’s missing, and they can’t find him,” claimed Mares.
Mays’ cellphone was located in an area that had experienced avalanche activity prior to his disappearance.
“They had to protect their asses,” said Mares, suggesting the investigation was a way to keep the resort from looking “bad to the public.”
The sheriff’s office and Search and Rescue teams had been looking for May, but called off the search Tuesday night.
Hunt said authorities are preparing to begin a “body recovery” search for May.