AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventThe three and another member of the experienced patrol team were inspecting the mountain after heavy snowstorms and were fencing off the vent, a natural hazard, when the snow around the opening collapsed at 11:29 a.m. and the patrollers fell 21 feet, Lynch said. Other ski patrollers began rescue efforts and were assisted by local firefighters and paramedics, but only one of the four survived, Lynch said. The resort and local officials did not release names of the victims. One of the dead, however, was identified as Walter Rosenthal, a researcher for the University of California, Santa Barbara, said UCSB spokesman Paul Desruisseaux. Rosenthal, who was in his 40s, worked at the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Laboratory in Mammoth Lakes and was an expert in snow hydrology and remote sensing of snow. MAMMOTH LAKES – Three members of the Mammoth Mountain ski patrol were killed when they fell into a volcanic gas vent on the 11,053-foot peak in the Eastern Sierra Thursday. One victim was identified by colleagues as an avalanche expert and university snow researcher. A number of rescuers were overcome by gas and suffered minor injuries, said Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort spokeswoman Joani Lynch. She did not know if gas was the cause of the three deaths. The tragedy was the latest in a string of accidents at Mammoth, where four skiers have died in a season marked by a record 52 feet of snowfall since October. Accounts of the accident differed on whether all fell in the vent or whether one died attempting a rescue. “He apparently jumped in to try to help with the rescue effort of those who were on the patrol and as a result, he died,” Desruisseaux said. Rosenthal was also president of the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center, said Allan Pietrasanta, a director of the organization. Pietrasanta said Rosenthal and others started the avalanche center in the winter of 2004-05 to release information about snow stability and “increase the public’s awareness of snowpack stability.” Mammoth Lakes Mayor Rick Wood said the police detective working on the case indicated there was a significant amount of gas involved in the accident at the 10,000-foot level of the mountain.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!