Sheriff: Missing Snowboarder Found Dead

Rescue crews Thursday morning discovered the body of a woman who went missing while snowboarding at a Lake Tahoe-area resort.

Searchers spotted the body of Shawnte Marie Willis, 25, of Tahoma from a helicopter, Placer County Sheriff's Capt. Jeff Ausnow said.

They were lowered down to Willis' body, which was in a tree well. Willis appears to have crashed while snowboarding although what caused her to die will not be known until an autopsy can be performed next week, Ausnow said.

"It's very unfortunate that we have a very sad ending here," he said at a morning news conference.

Willis became separated from her friends Tuesday afternoon at Alpine Meadows Ski Resort.

Searchers used crews on the ground and a military helicopter with infrared technology to look for her. Ausnow said inclement weather, including 80 to 100 mile-per-hour winds, prevented crews from searching the part of the mountain where Willis was found until Thursday.

Ground crews were called off a day earlier because of the threat of avalanches although Ausnow said there were no signs one had occurred in that area.

Willis' family in Humboldt County has described her as a strong athlete who worked as a ski instructor. But they worried about Willis' epilepsy and said it could be triggered by the extreme stress of being lost in the snow.

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