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Avalanche victim's family speaks out

January 28, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Three skiers were killed Friday by a trio of avalanches that swept through canyons outside the trails of Mountain High ski resort in Wrightwood.By all accounts the condition of the out of bound canyons on both sides of Mountain High were treacherous Friday.

Avalanches are unusual in the San Gabriel Mountains, authorities said, but so was the 3 feet or more of new snow that hit the region in a matter of days this week.

All three who died, Michael McKay, Darin Bodie Coffey, and Christopher Allport, were all expert skiers and knew the mountains well.

Both McKay and Coffey were skiing outside of the resort boundaries.

"I am sure they had been in there a hundred times before. Like you said they were all expert skiers, two of them were former patrollers. No one knows more about these ski conditions then they do. It is just a tragic event," said John McColly, Mountain High Ski area.

Both Michael McKay, 25, and Darin Coffey, 31, grew up in Wrightwood and had been ski patrolmen at Mountain High, but they were not working on Friday.

McKay's mother say that he came home from graduate school in San Diego late Thursday full of enthusiasm about the ski conditions on the mountain.

"He was thrilled to be here. We talked for a little bit and he went to bed. He woke us up at 6:00 a.m. and said, 'I am out of here.' He had a handful of granola and he said that he would check in," said Laura McKay, Michael's mother.

Family and friends gathered at the McKay's home on Monday to remember Michael's love of life. He was a surfer, a lifeguard and an avid mountain biker.

"He was the son a father would wish to have. He was just an incredible young man and I couldn't be prouder to be his father," said Vince McKay, Michael's father.

"Mike always took care of me. He always knew what I needed even when I didn't tell him. He knew something about life that we all didn't. He knew how to live it the best he could and he did," said Hannah McKay, Michael's sister.

Andrew Allport, the son of Christopher Allport, released a statement Monday afternoon: "Christopher Allport had an insatiable appetite for life and anything he did, anyone who knew him would be awed by how he lived his life."

Christopher Allport, 60, was found Saturday morning. Allport was a veteran character actor who had appeared on such TV shows as "ER," "Felicity," and "Matlock."

The tragedies didn't keep skiers and snowboarders from swarming to the resort. About 6,000 people jammed the slopes Saturday, officials said.

 

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