Skier killed in New Mexico avalanche was on annual trip with his father

Skier killed in New Mexico avalanche

Los Angeles — A skier who was killed after he was buried alive in an avalanche Thursday has been identified as 26-year-old Matthew Zonghetti, an expert skier from Massachusetts who traveled more than 2,000 miles to ski the slopes of Taos in New Mexico.

More than 100 emergency workers and volunteers formed lines and began frantically searching for two skiers buried in the deep snowpack after the avalanche hit. Zonghetti, an expert skier, was one of them. 

His family said he was on an annual father-son ski trip.

"The trail was open and he went down and my husband went down a different one cause he's not as good a skier, and then the avalanche happened," said Susan Zonghetti, his mother.

People search for victims after an avalanche buried multiple people near the highest peak of Taos Ski Valley, one of the biggest resorts in New Mexico, Jan. 17, 2019.
People search for victims after an avalanche buried multiple people near the highest peak of Taos Ski Valley, one of the biggest resorts in New Mexico, Jan. 17, 2019. Morgan Timms/Taos News via AP

Zonghetti had been trapped in the hard-packed snow for 22 minutes before he was finally pulled out. He died a short time later.

"He was my world. I loved him," said his sister Kathryn.

As the other skier recovers from his injuries, there are mounting questions about why a ski lift providing easy access to the expert trails was open that day.

"We did thorough avalanche control work, even in the area where the slide took place. We felt that the conditions were fine," said Taos Ski Valley CEO David Norden.

Authorities are still investigating what triggered the avalanche.