Whitefish firefighter and paramedic, was killed in an avalanche Thursday afternoon while backcountry skiing on Stanton Mountain in Glacier National Park.
Updated On: Jan 06, 2017
Ben Parsons, 36, a well-known local athlete and Whitefish firefighter and paramedic, was killed in an avalanche Thursday afternoon while backcountry skiing on Stanton Mountain in Glacier National Park.
Emergency responders pronounced him dead before they were able to transport him to the hospital. Parsons died from trauma sustained after he was caught in the slide, which occurred about 500 feet below the summit of the mountain, according to park spokeswoman Lauren Alley.
Parsons is survived by his wife and a young son. On Friday, friends mourned the loss of the local hero, whose dedication to his work with the Whitefish Fire Department was held up alongside his accomplishments as a mountain biker and backcountry skier who had secured multiple national titles.
Clint Muhlfeld, a close friend of Parson’s, competed alongside the firefighter on the same mountain-biking team that won two national championships. Muhlfeld remembered him on Friday as a consummate athlete and an active community member who “had so much love for everyone — it just radiated from him.”
“He was always the guy to keep me going when I was down and one of the most incredible human beings I’ve met in my life,” he said. “His zest for life was just unmatched. He got after it so hard, and on so many fronts, with his friends and family to his athletic [ability] to everything he did. He gave it 110 percent.”
Muhlfeld added that Parsons one of the top ski-mountaineering competitors in the country, as well, and won the annual Whitefish Whiteout randonee race on Big Mountain multiple times.
“From climbing peaks to long hikes in the park to mountain bike racing to skiing, he did it all,” he said. “He’s one of the most amazing athletes.”
Parsons joined the Whitefish Fire Department around the beginning of 2009. In 2010, a story in the Daily Inter Lake detailed Parsons’ life-saving response to a fellow firefighter who had gone into cardiac arrest. Parsons had just finished a 50-mile mountain-biking endurance race covering 8,200 vertical feet in Oregon.
But that didn’t prevent him from successfully resuscitating the local firefighter, who had suffered a heart attack while responding to an unattended barbecue sitting on a wooden porch in a resident’s back yard.
Ben Parsons talks with students at Whitefish High School in 2012. (Pilot file photo)
Authorities on Friday released the name of the Kalispell man who was killed in an avalanche Thursday afternoon while backcountry skiing on Stanton Mountain in Glacier National Park.
Ben Parsons, 36, was a well-known firefighter and paramedic with the Whitefish Fire Department. He died from trauma sustained after he was caught in the slide, which occurred about 500 feet below the summit of the mountain, according to park spokeswoman Lauren Alley.
Stanton Mountain rises to 7,750 feet in elevation along the shore of Lake McDonald.
Alley said Thursday night that Parsons had been backcountry skiing with two other people. Neither of his companions were caught in the avalanche, and one of them was able to use a cell phone to get help.
“The companion closest to the victim was able to immediately search for the victim, find him, warm him and comfort him” until emergency crews arrived, Alley said.