High school mourns 2 seniors who died in tragic sledding accident

The boys rode down a half pipe and launched off a large snowbank at the bottom.

March 21, 2023, 9:44 AM

A 17-year-old and an 18-year-old have died after suffering a tragic sledding accident while they were on spring break.

The incident occurred at approximately 8:35 p.m. on Sunday night at the Copper Mountain Ski Resort in Colorado, approximately 75 miles west of Denver. The Summit County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of two people being involved in a sledding accident at the resort.

"The subjects reportedly rode tandem down the half pipe and launched off a large snowbank at the bottom of the half pipe," the Summit County Sheriff’s Office said following the accident. "The two individuals came down hard on the hard ice below, causing blunt force trauma."

The two teenagers -- both from Illinois and visiting Copper Mountain Ski Resort on spring break -- received immediate medical attention but neither could be revived and both of them were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

"Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families and friends of the individuals involved in this tragic incident," Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said.

Paula Crane, superintendent of Prairie Central Community Unit School District Number 8, identified the boys as Dylan Bazzell and Drew Fehr, seniors who attended Prairie Central High School in Fairbury, Illinois.

"It is with deep sadness that I inform you about a tragic accident that has resulted in a significant loss in our schools and in our community," Crane said in a statement directed at the school’s community. "On Sunday, two Prairie Central High School students lost their lives in a ski-related accident. We are committed to doing everything we can to help our students and staff with the grieving and healing process. To that end, we have teamed with the Baptist Church in Fairbury to offer counseling, prayer, and a place for students to gather today."

Crane continued, "This loss will affect everyone in our school family and in our communities. Students may have a difficult time dealing with the loss, and we encourage you to talk with your child."

Authorities subsequently took the opportunity to remind people about safe practices on the slopes and to always be aware of the risks involved.

"The Summit County Sheriff's Office would like to remind everyone to always practice safe on snow activity habits and to be aware of the risks associated with these activities," authorities said.

The Summit County Coroner's Office has now taken over the investigation into the cause and manner of death.

The investigation remains active and authorities said no further details will be made available at this time.