HomeOutdoorsNewsAir National Guardsman Dies After Falling Off Snowboard at Indoor Ski Park

Air National Guardsman Dies After Falling Off Snowboard at Indoor Ski Park

by Craig Garrett
(Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

An Air National Guard serviceman died after falling while snowboarding at an indoor ski park inside a New Jersey mall. On December 8th, 24-year-old Peter Mathews of Bay Shore, New York fell while snowboarding at the Big Snow American Dream within the American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, Newsday reports. Sarah Mathews told the newspaper that when her brother fell backward and hit his head, he became unconscious. He also had difficulty breathing.

Mathews’ sister said that he was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center after CPR was performed at the mall, but unfortunately, he was pronounced dead. Mathews was an airman first class in the Maryland Air National Guard, which he joined in 2020. According to his sister, his dream was to become a commercial airline pilot. Reportedly, Mathews was wearing a helmet and other safety gear when he fell. He also had no underlying health problems his family knew of.

Big Snow American Dream is Canada’s first indoor ski park. It opened in 2019 to much fanfare. Various skiing stars including Lindsey Vonn attended its grand opening event. This 4-acre park is covered in 5,500 tons of snow and packed to a depth of 2 feet. It’s open year-round and has three trails: a beginner trail called “Lil’ Dipper”, an intermediate trail called “Switchback”, and an advanced trail called “Northern Lights”. There is also a terrain park with four lifts that service the trails. Two of the lifts are carpet surface lifts that serve the Lil Dipper. Meanwhile the other two, a quad chairlift and platter lift, work for Northern Lights and Switchback respectively.

Air National Guardsman Mathews was ‘destined for greatness’

“We can confirm that our ski patrol responded to a guest incident last Thursday evening,” Big Snow said in a statement. “First aid was administered, and the guest was transported to a hospital for further care. Our thoughts are with this guest’s family at this time.”

Beno Varghese, who was with Mathews at the time of the incident, spoke to reporters. He said that it looked as if Mathews had just taken a standard fall. “I saw him on the ground. I ran up and he was already unconscious,” Varghese recalled. As medical staff tried to revive Mathews, Varghese and other friends who had gone skiing with him earlier surrounded him in a circle and prayed.

Recently, U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Galabiehs announced that Mathews was awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal for his accomplishments during exercises in eastern Europe. Mathews had mobilized with the Air Force unit to assist them. “If you had a chance to talk to him, you knew instantly he had a remarkable future and was destined for greatness,” Galabiehs wrote in a statement. Matthews will be laid to rest on Monday at Calverton National Cemetery.