Skier's Death Sparks Lawsuit Against Whitefish Mountain Resort - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Skier's Death Sparks Lawsuit Against Whitefish Mountain Resort

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The foreign family of a 16-year-old is suing the Montana ski area where he died more than three years ago and the family that was hosting the boy at the time.

They say their son's host family, and Whitefish Mountain Resort, could have done something to prevent the teenager's fatal fall into a tree well.

According to court documents, a German foreign exchange student died on one of the hills at Whitefish Mountain Resort back in December 2010, and now his family is looking to see not only the Resort in court, but also his Columbia Falls host family.

The court papers say at about 11:00 a.m. on December 29, 2010, Niclas Wäschle was found trapped under snow near the T-bar two ski lift. By the time people noticed his skis sticking up out of the snow, he began to suffocate. He apparently fell into a large pocket of unpacked snow near a tree, also known as a tree well.

He died three days later in Kalispell Regional Medical Center after doctors said he was brain dead.

His parents are claiming the area where he fell was not marked off in any way, and the Resort did not do its part to warn skiers. They even point out ten days later a 29-year-old Kalispell snowboarder died near the same spot.

The suit also names World Experience, the group that helped place Niclas with an American family, Fred and Lynn Vanhorn, saying both exposed Niclas to "unreasonably risky behavior." They go on to say Fred Vanhorn was a ski instructor at the Big Mountain ski area, and should have known better than to let Niclas ski alone.

The parents, Raimund Wäschle and Patricia Birkhold-Wäschle, are looking to get compensation for their medical bills and grief.

ABC FOX MONTANA reached out to Whitefish Mountain Resort, the attorneys, the host family, as well as the exchange agency. As of news time they were not able to get back to us.

The federal complaint was filed on Christmas eve with the US District Court in Missoula.

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