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Recalling Gentle Giant Derek Cressey, Latest Skier to Die at Breckenridge

Derek Cressey with a loved one.
Derek Cressey with a loved one.
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The skier who died at Breckenridge on March 8 has been identified as Derek Cressey, a 38-year-old "gentle giant" from Windham, Maine. And the outpouring of love and loss that followed the news of this young father's passing speaks to the impact he had on friends and loved ones during his too-short life.

At approximately 9:50 a.m. on the 8th, as we've reported, the Summit County Sheriff's Office received a report about a skier later ID'd as Cressey who'd collided with a tree on Peak 8. He was transported to the Peak 8 First Aid room, where he was later pronounced dead.

Shortly thereafter, Facebook posts began appearing about Cressey, whose own page notes that he worked at Maine's DC Plumbing and Heating, and they've continued to pop up regularly over the days that followed. Here are some examples:

Reading this just hit me and made this massive tragedy too real. Derek Cressey is older than me. And growing up, looking up to guys like him, was what what young guys like me, did. He for sure made me feel like one of the crew. He was always one of the 1st to offer help when I had questions of surviving “home ownership.” He loved. He gave. His personality, like no other. His passing is crushing to so many of us. I love you DC. I know my Big Bro welcomed you home with big love. Shine on.

Derek Cressey was one of the first friends I ever had. He lived a few streets over from me, and I always thought it was so cool that he lived in a log cabin. We had so many good times running around the Hillcrest neighborhood. Though I hadn't seen him in 15+ years, I was so sad to hear of his passing. I'll always remember his huge smile, his kindness, and the positive energy he projected to everyone around him.... Rest easy, old friend.

It sucks to say this but, rip Derek Cressey... We never got to hang out much even though we always kept saying we would but, every time we saw each other we always laughed and joked no matter where it was. My thoughts and condolences go out to all his friends and family.

As I sit hear looking at the posts of a great man I have lost today, I still can’t believe you are not with us anymore. I will miss you Derek Cressey as we all will. You were a gentle giant with the patience of a school teacher! I always admired how u never let the little things get in your way. You were always smooth! And that great laugh that we all keep hearing today and tomorrow. Your family will miss you everyday. My thought and prayer to your family. Your boys will become you and carry on your name as you would love them to. I will do my best to help them through the outdoors as that is my place! Love you brother and will miss you more than most know. Fun to work with you also. Man this is so hard. Sorry you had to leave us so soon. God bless and God Speed!

Derek Cressey enjoying another of his pastimes.
Derek Cressey enjoying another of his pastimes.

Cressey is the first fatality at Breckenridge during the 2017-2018 season, but the tenth since 2015-2016. In addition, he is the third to lose his life on or near Breckenridge's Peak 8 during that span.

The overall number of in-bounds skiing casualties in Colorado is down this season in comparison with the last one. Cressey's death at Breckenridge is the fourth in Colorado circa 2017-2018, as compared to fourteen fatalities of this type in 2016-2017.

The first person to die skiing in Colorado this season was Collin Zak, a 23-year-old Ohioan and member of the U.S. Armed Forces, who died snowboarding at Monarch on December 2. Nathan Enright, a 21-year-old who'd recently moved to Larimer County from Libertyville, Illinois, to attend college, was severely injured at Keystone that same day and removed from life support on December 5, three days before the incident was made public. And college ski champ Leon Christopher also died at Keystone after an accident on February 25.

Derek Cressey flying high with two more treasured little ones.
Derek Cressey flying high with two more treasured little ones.

For its part, the Breckenridge resort was the setting for five deaths during the 2016-2017 season, where another four people died skiing in 2015-2016. Eight of the fatalities happened in roughly one calendar year. The updated total of ten is by far the highest for deaths at a Colorado ski area in the past three seasons.

The 2016-2017 Breck victims were Kevin Pitts, who died on December 19, 2016; Sean Haberthier, who died on January 13, 2017; Ricardo Cohen, who died on the following February 10; Tess Smith, who died on March 6; and Logan Goodwin, a twelve-year-old who died from injuries sustained on April 8, 2017.

Pitts and Haberthier lost their lives in close proximity to Peak 8. The former hit a tree on the Alpine Alley run, not far from Peak 8's Imperial Express SuperChair, while the latter was found on Lower Boneyard, another trail close to the lift.

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