Alpine Meadows snowboarder found dead

By: Journal Staff Report
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A woman reported missing while snowboarding in Alpine Meadows was found dead Thursday morning. A search helicopter spotted 25-year-old Shawnte Willis' body in a tree well in the Granite Chief Wilderness area about 400 feet below the Pacific Crest Trail at about 9 a.m., according to Capt. Jeff Ausnow with the Placer County Sheriff's Office. The Placer Sheriff's helicopter Falcon 30 lowered search crews to the area to recover Willis. Ausnow said an official cause of death is pending an autopsy report. "Shawnte was found in a tree well and preliminary evidence suggests that she may have crashed her snowboard in that area," Ausnow said. Willis was last seen snowboarding off the backside of Alpine Meadows ski resort at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. Concerted efforts by searchers both Tuesday and Wednesday were hampered by storms, wind and the danger from high avalanche conditions. Ausnow, commander of the Tahoe Placer County Sheriff's division, said the search resumed at 7 a.m. today with more than 40 cross-country skiers and snowshoers attempting to find the 25-year-old Tahoma woman. Clear skies and lower wind speeds allowed the rescue team to use helicopters to search from the air, Ausnow said. Three choppers were scheduled to fly at different times throughout the day, he said.