In the August of 2010, one Andy Wirth, relocated to Squaw Valley to take on his new role as the president and CEO of Squaw Valley Holdings. For the longest time, this adrenaline junkie had developed an immense love for skydiving and was looking for ways to get into the extreme sport. Read more: How Will the Drought Affect California Ski Resorts?
In the spring of 2011, his dream to become a certified jumper was realized and for the very first time he did it, he loved the thrill.
Accompanied by Mountain Athlete J. T. Holmes, the two would go on a jumping spree as often as the CEO’s schedule would allow. Their thirst for ‘The rush’ grew deeper by the day and at times they would jump from the first load till sundown.
According to Bloomberg, One fateful day in October 2013, Andy and some friends were jumping in Lodi after their designated drop zone in Davis was shut down due to winds. The drop zone was pretty familiar to Andy Wirth and that increased his confidence regardless of the windy condition. Unfortunately, the odds this day shifted against their favor.
Following a bad judgment call from the pilot, Andy exited too far from the drop zone. On his way down, he met a conflicting wind that compromised his chances of making the designated drop zone.
The only option he was left with was to land in a vineyard which also did not augur well with him as the winds persisted on pushing him further.
In his final maneuvers, he met an untimely landing catching a pole with his right arm consequently tearing his arm from the shoulder all the way to his mid-forearm. His brachial arm was bleeding profusely.
Wirth realized his slim chances of survival and decided to confront his situation if he was to live. As a former backcountry ranger, he was conversant with trauma management and started containing the situation to the best of his ability.
Andy knew that it is shock that kills many people in times like this and decided that he wasn’t going to give in. He had to keep breathing. As an avid Pearl Jam fan kept saying the lyrics “Just Breathe” and surprisingly they helped a lot to calm him.
Andy Wirth’s cry for help was answered by Amanda, a fellow jumper who helped him contain the bleeding by using the strap of an altimeter as a tourniquet. 15 minutes after Amanda’s arrival, the ambulance arrived and minutes later he was loaded onto a Flight nurse helicopter.
At the hospital, Andy Wirth received 12 units of blood before they could even start working on his arm. That night alone, the doctors spent 12 hours trying to save his arm. 24 surgeries later, 50 hours in the theater, and nearly 90 days in the hospital, his arm was reconstructed.
However with the support from his loving family, friends, and devoted therapists, Andy was able to recuperate slowly. He is now training for the Ironman triathlon which helps him a lot with his recovery.
He is also part the Special Warfare Warriors for the Navy Seal Foundation. Wirth met with a seal team during their winter mountain training where they made friends and realized their common experiences instantly.
He is now partaking in the triathlon in a bid to raise funds for the navy brothers who’ve lost limbs and lives on the front lines. Currently, they have managed to raise at least $ 40,000.
About Andy Wirth
He serves as the CEO of Alpine Meadows of Tahoe, Inc. He has been the CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Corporation since 2010, August. Previously, he served as the senior vice president of sales and marketing, Steamboat Ski& Resort Corporation since June 2009.
Andy Wirth holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the Colorado State University. He is a man with numerous accolades and not forgetting the heart of a lion.