YAKIMA, Wash. — A cause of death has been determined in Saturday’s ski accident that claimed the life of a young Yakima woman.
The county coroner says KyOna Hoff, 22, died from suffocation due to being trapped in the deep snow.
According to managers at the White Pass Ski Area, Hoff had been skiing with friends on Saturday before she decided to split up from the group. Ski Patrol had been contacted around 3:30 p.m. by Hoff’s friends after they were unable to locate her. Patrol found Hoff at around 6 p.m. in a tree well where she was pronounced dead at the scene.
KNDO spoke to some of Hoff’s friends over the phone Monday. They tell us she was a free-spirited person who loved to ski.
Hoff attended and graduated from West Valley High School in 2007. Friends say she was involved in many activities, not just skiing. They say she enjoyed riding her motorcycle, was involved in equestrian sports, and even trained horses.
Although she as an accomplished skier, experts say accidents like the one over the weekend can’t always be avoided.
“It can happen to anybody, it really can. If you just get in a situation where you’re too close to the base of a tree. It can be very, very difficult to extricate yourself,” White Pass spokesperson Kathleen Goyette explained.
Goyette says they’ve been seeing light, dry snow consistently for the last six weeks. “So it does build up a risk factor, where you know, you can fall into there,” said Goyette. “It’s important to be aware that it’s one of the potential dangers when you go out skiing or snowboarding.”
If you plan on skiing, Goyette says it’s recommended that you always go with at least one other person or with a group.
Hoff was also an employee at the ski resort.
“It’s just a horrible, horrible accident,” Goyette expressed.
Friends say Hoff was a very dedicated and positive person.