Robert F. Goddard

Freak Mishap Kills Skier
Times, 2/5/79

An unusual skiing accident Sunday at Mount Alyeska Ski Resort claimed the life of 27-year-old Robert F. Goddard.

Goddard was pronounced dead on arrival at Providence Hospital where he was airlifted by military helicopter about two and a half hours after the accident, a hospital spokesman said.

Cause of death was not released by the hospital but resort manager Chris von Imhof said doctors on the scene at Alyeska thought Goddard might have sustained a broken neck and severed spinal cord.

Although no one witnessed the late afternoon accident, Goddard apparently was skiing down the resort's national slalom hill while a juvenile, whose name was not available, was coming down a lower cat-track trail.

"Both were really going pretty fast," von Imhof said this morning.  "They hit each other at about a 90 degree angle."

The other skier was not seriously injured.

A friend of Goddard's was right behind him and heard the collision.  He saw that Goddard was not breathing and began to administer cardio-pulmonary resuscitation until a doctor, who was skiing nearby, arrived, von Imhof said.

Goddard was taken to the first-aid station at the base of the mountain by members of the Alyeska Ski Patrol where two doctors and other emergency personnel treated him, Imhof said.

The Rescue Coordination Center at Elmendorf Air Force Base dispatched a helicopter and Goddard was taken to Providence Hospital.

Von Imhof said it didn't appear the younger skier was necessarily responsible for the accident because Goddard was on the upper trail.  The "skier's responsibility code" calls for a skier on a higher trail to be aware of skiers below him and adjust accordingly, von Imhof said.

Visibility was excellent when the accident happened although the sun had already gone down behind the mountain, von Imhof said.

Snow conditions also were good with hard pack snow on the cat-track and a layer of powder on the slalom train, he said.

"It's the first time in my 12 to 13 years here that I've ever seen anything like this happen," von Imhof said.  "We sometimes have collisions but never fatal ones."

"It shows again that skiers always have to watch out what's below them."

Goddard was a resident of Girdwood and owned a season's ski pass to the resort, implying that he was probably a good skier, von Imhof said.

He was employed by the state Department of Natural Resources in Anchorage.

Survivors include his father, Earl Goddard of Palo Alto, Calif.

The body was taken to Forest Lawn Memorial Chapel where arrangements are awaiting word from next of kin.