Opening day at Sugar

An aerial shot shows Sugar Mountain Resort’s slopes on opening day, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019.

SUGAR MOUNTAIN — A man lost his life at Sugar Mountain Resort on Friday, Jan. 31, after an incident where the man and others were trespassing on the property by sledding after hours.

According to Sugar Mountain Chief of Police David Henson, at approximately 11:04 p.m. John Joseph Nevins IV, 53, of Titusville, Fla., along with several other family members and friends were on resort property sledding after business hours.

Nevins was sledding on a plastic disc when he collided with a snowmaking machine approximately 100 yards from Briarcliff Road. A member of the group called 911, according to the incident report filed by Village of Sugar Mountain Police Department.

“Our policemen were to him in a matter of just a couple of minutes, along with other first responders and ski patrol, but after working on him for a long time, unfortunately he succumbed to his injuries,” Henson said.

Officer Matt Millsaps with Seven Devils Public Safety was first to reach the scene and began attempting resuscitation efforts, with Sugar Mountain Police officer Anthony Burnette arriving moments later and directing EMS to the location, according to the incident report.

Sugar Mountain Resort owner and Village of Sugar Mountain Mayor Gunther Jochl also confirmed the details of the incident, adding that the resort closed its slopes at 10 p.m. and that sledding on Sugar Mountain is prohibited at all times.

According to the incident report, a search party was also organized by ski patrol personnel that were still on the property.

“Ski patrol had just swept the mountain to make sure no one was still on the mountain,” Henson added. “Just as they were leaving to go home they received the call, so luckily there were still a couple of ski patrol staff who had not gone home who were able to respond, as well as firemen and medics. Everyone did a terrific job, but unfortunately the man still passed away.”

Additional agencies supporting Sugar Mountain Police and Sugar Mountain Resort Ski Patrol who responded to the incident included Avery EMS, First Responders, Linville Central Rescue Squad, Seven Devils Police Department and Banner Elk Volunteer Fire and Rescue.

Thomas Sherrill contributed reporting to this story.

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