Fall injures photographer

Accident paralyzes local Powdercats guide

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Steamboat Powdercats photographer and videographer Dave Genchi was paralyzed Dec. 21 during a snowboarding accident on Buffalo Pass. A recovery fund has been set up at Wells Fargo in Genchi's name.

How to help

Donations for Dave Genchi may be made to the "Dave Genchi Recovery Fund" at any Wells Fargo bank. The account number is 8147431897. The routing number for large donations is 121000248. For more information, call Brandy Forsyth at 870-2075 or send checks to Wells Fargo Bank, P.O. Box 77488, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477.

To contact Dave Genchi, e-mail him at genchi@steamboatp... or check out his work at rightskool.com.

— Dave Genchi lived to ride powder.

His passion for photography and video led him from sun-drenched Florida to Ski Town, U.S.A., where he has worked for Steamboat Powdercats since 2002.

Steamboat Powdercats is a recreation company that takes skiers and snowboarders into the backcountry by snowcat.

During a routine day riding with other Powdercats guides on Buffalo Pass on Dec. 21, Genchi surf-turned off a rock, tumbled upside down and landed head first, breaking several vertebrae in his neck. The guides were not guiding tours when the accident occurred.

On Thursday, Kent Vertrees, a manager at Powdercats, spent the day skiing in Genchi's memory and recalling the incident that paralyzed one of his "brothers."

"It was more or less a freak accident," he said. "As skiers and snowboarders, we all tumble. We all go upside down. He wasn't jumping of a cliff or doing anything silly."

Genchi and 11 other Powdercats guides were coming down Skeeters, a run that Vertrees described as "not so challenging," when the accident happened at 1 p.m. The guides, who are all professionally trained to handle emergency medical situations, put Genchi on a toboggan and skied him to where Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue crews were waiting to pick him up.

After being stabilized at Yampa Valley Medical Center, Genchi was flown to St. Mary's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Grand Junction where he remains. Genchi underwent surgery to stabilize his neck with titanium plates and has limited mobility in his upper body, Vertrees said.

Vertrees said employees from Powdercats and Genchi's family have been with him in Grand Junction, and that he is able to communicate and is showing signs of improvement every day.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to Dave, his immediate family and all those who have been blessed by knowing him," Vertrees said. "It has been really hard on all of us."

Genchi recently was featured in the winter edition of Steamboat Magazine as a "photographer-filmmaker extraordinaire." Genchi entered a film he shot, "Boat Trippin'," in the 2005 Steamboat Mountain Film Festival and won second place, Vertrees said.

Genchi's ability to capture people's adventures so energetically and passionately made him great at what he did, he said.

"If you read that story (in Steamboat Magazine), that is Dave Genchi," he said. "His passion, creativity and lust for life are evident in everything that is Powdercats."

A recovery fund has been set up in Genchi's name at Wells Fargo. Donations may be made at any Wells Fargo bank. Updates on Genchi's condition will be available periodically at steamboatpowdercats.com.

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