A woman skiing in powder at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort lost her balance, fell headfirst into the snow and became buried and unable to move. She soon started believing that this was how she was going to die.
Jenny Karns had been skiing down a run called South Hoback on Friday when the incident occurred after 1 p.m., a time when not a lot of skiers were around, according to the Jackson Hole News & Guide. Her ski partner was ahead of her and didn’t see what happened.
“I was thinking this is the worst way to die,” she told Jackson Hole News & Guide. “And I was on a main run, not out of bounds or doing anything stupid.”
After 15 minutes, her lungs began to deflate from a lack of oxygen and she was about to pass out. She suffered a collapsed lung.
“It’s basically asphyxiating,” Karns, 48, told Jackson Hole News & Guide. “I was on my death bed.”
Karns realized one ski was sticking out and had hoped somebody might see her hot pink ski waving around.
“I started praying,” she said. “I couldn’t scream because I was too buried. I was praying, ‘Save me. Please, God. Please, God, someone find me.’”
It was while on the verge of passing out that Karns suddenly felt a hand on her leg. She had been found. Prayers were answered.
Nathanael Reeder was close to the bottom of the run when he dipped into a gully and saw the ski and leg sticking out of the snow.
“It was like a lawn dart,” he told Jackson Hole News & Guide.
Reeder called in two other skiers to help dig Karns out, and called ski patrol.
“My first impression was that there was no way she was alive,” Reeder told Jackson Hole News & Guide. “She was inverted completely on her head.”
Karns emerged with a “huge sigh” and was spitting up blood and vomiting, Reeder related, adding “she was in extreme distress.”
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Jackson Hole Ski Patrol transported her to the lodge from where she was rushed to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls. There, doctors pumped air into her lungs.
“I thought I just needed to catch my breath, but tests showed I might have had a mild heart attack,” Karns told Jackson Hole News & Guide, explaining a heart condition called takotsobu cardiomyopathy that develops after an intense emotional or physical experience.
Karns, reporting being “weak and tired,” was discharged Monday.
Reeder was looking forward to a return trip to Jackson to meet with Karns and her family.
“He saved my life,” Karns said.
Making it all the more remarkable is the fact Reeder was making the last run of the day when he spotted Karns.
Photo of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
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“It’s basically asphyxiating,” Karns, 48, told Jackson Hole News. “I was on my death bed.”