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Backcountry skier rescued, but skiing partner dies near Vail

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Posted at 10:25 AM, Feb 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-07 12:25:24-05

VAIL, Colo. – A backcountry skier was found dead Tuesday morning a day after his skiing partner was rescued from the backcountry on the east side of Vail, but apparently failed to tell his rescuers he’d been skiing with someone else.

The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office was alerted to the search and rescue operation for the backcountry skier around 7 p.m. Monday. The skier said he’d fallen off a trail and told rescue crews he’d been trying to hike out of the area for several hours.

The man was rescued by crews with the Vail Mountain Rescue Group and Vail Ski Patrol, according to the sheriff’s office, but never told crews he’d been skiing with someone else that day.

“He assumed his friend had gotten out on his own,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

The next morning, the man called the sheriff’s office to say his friend hadn’t made it home the night before. The same rescue crews set out again and found the man dead shortly afterward.

On Tuesday evening, the Eagle County Coroner’s Office identified the dead skier as 24-year-old Samuel Failla, of New Jersey. His cause of death has yet to be determined.

Online profiles show that Failla worked as a ski and snowboard instructor at Vail Resorts from November 2016 to April 2017, and that he’d attended the University of South Carolina from 2012-2016 after attending Chatham High School in New Jersey, where he was a member of the Honors Society and a football player.