Friday, March 22, 2013

Coroner: Skier had internal injuries

Says damage to aorta was likely cause of death

Express Staff Writer

    Investigators have issued preliminary findings on the cause of death of a 38-year-old female skier found unresponsive just before 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, near Roundhouse Lane on Bald Mountain.
    Blaine County Coroner Russ Mikel said last week that Melanie Kendall, of Hailey, was pronounced dead at St. Luke’s Wood River at 4:40 p.m. from “presumed trauma from striking a tree.”
    Blaine County Sheriff Gene Ramsey, whose office conducted an investigation of the incident, said preliminary results of an autopsy being conducted at the Ada County Coroner’s Office in Boise by forensic pathologist Dr. Charles Garrison attributed the cause of death to “trauma to the chest area.” Ramsey said Kendall was wearing a helmet and that Garrison’s preliminary report indicated that she sustained “no trauma to the head.”
    The Ada County Coroner’s Office referred all questions on the case back to Mikel.
    Mikel said Thursday that Garrison’s preliminary results indicate that “blunt trauma” to Kendall’s chest caused damaging tears to her ascending aorta. The ascending aorta is the first section of the aorta artery, the largest artery in the human body. It extends upward from the left ventricle of the heart to provide oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body.
    “I’m pretty sure that’s going to be the final cause of death,” he said.
    Mikel said final autopsy results won’t be ready for about another seven weeks.
    Kendall was a married mother of four children who worked for Sun Valley Co. at River Run Lodge.
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