July 26th, 2011
10:39 PM ET

U.S. skier Jeret Peterson shot himself to death, police say

Aerial skier and Olympic silver medalist Jeret "Speedy" Peterson died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, a spokesman for the Utah Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake said.

Police responded to a 911 call Monday night from Peterson, who said he was going to commit suicide and gave them his location in Lambs Canyon, Lt. Justin Hoyal said.

He was already dead by the time officers arrived at 11:30 p.m. ET, Hoyal said.

"This is a sad day for Boise and for all of us who admired Speedy Peterson's accomplishments, both on the slopes and in his life," said, Boise Mayor Mayor David H. Bieter, who presented Peterson with the Key to the City last year after he medaled in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

"The hundreds of kids who came to City Hall to shake Speedy's hand after he medaled in Vancouver last year are a living testament to his power to inspire and motivate. It is truly tragic that, in the end, there was one hill he wasn't able to conquer. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."

Peterson won a silver medal in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games for freestyle skiing after pulling off his signature move, the Hurricane.

Peterson picked up the nickname "Speedy" at a summer ski camp in Lake Placid, New York, in the mid-1990s because coaches thought he resembled the cartoon character "Speed Racer" with a big helmet, according to the United States Ski and Snowboard Association website. He won the 1999 U.S. Junior Championship and took bronze at two straight World Junior Championships in 2000 and 2001.

His life was not without tragedy. He reportedly considered suicide after losing $550,000 in blackjack earnings, according to The New York Times. His half-sister died in a drunken driving accident when he was 5. A friend committed suicide at his house, in front of him.

"The personal challenges Speedy has battled are familiar to all of us, and on behalf of the U.S. Olympic Committee, I'd like to offer my sympathy to Speedy's family and friends. Today is a sad day," U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement.

"I know Speedy's friends and family were incredibly proud of his effort in Vancouver, and his achievements were an inspiration to people all over the world."

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Filed under: Sports • Utah
soundoff (284 Responses)
  1. Killerbeeman

    I guess getting Silver pushed him over the edge!

    The Dr Phil’s and religious nuts fail to realize that for a individual like him nothing but the will to live would have saved him. The Will to Live is extremely powerful, and unfortunately some people just don’t have it. It’s a sad story but when you read into it, this man had his own conflicts but never really sought out help because if he had wanted it, he would still be here.

    August 8, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Bronwyn Bryn

    mental Illness is too often ignored and misunderstood. :( drugs and alcohol often (not always) go hand in hand with mental illness. I'm sad for this talented young man and his family.

    August 16, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. ldean50

    I little advise for anyone in a situation where you are consoling someone after they suffer such a horrible loss. Please stay away from cliches. If you cannot find it in your heart to say something OTHER than "our thoughts and prayers are with . . ." , then don't say anything at all. If you truly want to touch someone, search for original, heartfelt words . . . when you use a cliche like the Boise mayor does here – it makes the person you're talking to feel like you don't really care, and that you're just going through the motions, meeting the expectations, being polite. At least the Boise Mayor didn't use the phrase . . . "during this difficult time," to go along with it.

    August 16, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • ilovemel

      I am sorry I have to diagree with that. When my sister died it was very comforting to me all these people saying they cared and knowing that they were praying for us. It was overwhelming the amount of support you can get just from people telling you something as simpls as, "I'm praying for you," or "I'm thinking about you".

      September 24, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Max

    I have to deal with acute clinical depression and anxiety disorder 24/7 every day of my life. I am not here to say that I am the poster boy of mental illness; there are those, God bless them, who suffer mental illness more than I. My life is hell – I can't imagine walking in their footsteps...such as Jerrett's.. One day/moment at a time. . May he find in heaven the peace and love which seemed to allude him in this lifetime.

    June 17, 2012 at 7:35 am | Report abuse | Reply
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