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. banasy

    This is sad.
    Such a promising young man.
    His pain is over, now.

    My sympathy and condolences to his family, and to all that knew him and loved him.

    July 27, 2011 at 7:03 am | Report abuse |
  2. banasy

    MAZAN:
    It's doubtful any religion could have prevented this young man from committing suicide.
    Not even the promise of seventy-two virgins in heaven, or whatever heaven is called in Islam.

    July 27, 2011 at 7:06 am | Report abuse |
  3. John

    Well, the fact that he would even consider risking $550,000 in a card game is proof of reckless judgment. With all that life has to offer, why is it that some people can only find enough strength to end it?

    July 27, 2011 at 7:20 am | Report abuse |
  4. Sabina

    Wow, you sound like an amazing person to have conquered so much and risen above all the garbage you dumped on your family. And a complete jackhole.
    Why did you even bother saying "May he rest in peace" after calling him every name in the book.
    Add PHONY to your list of attributes.

    July 27, 2011 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mr SandyK

    sorry for the `whatever` remark. i meant that i couldnt remember all the letters or if they were in the right order, nothing derogatory about the disorder. Hey Jazzzzzzzz! not sure how many z`s!! if you are reading this have a great day! and hugs back at cha. thank you for the reminder of my wife`s love. hard to imagine it hasnt been a month yet, the days are so long

    July 27, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mr SandyK

    John Richardson I understand the point you are trying to make. No need to defend your remarks. everyone views things front different angles. there are times when no one is right/wrong about something.

    July 27, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. NOT MY CHAIR

    2 bronze and 1 silver medal?! i would kill my self too its gold or nothing

    July 27, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  8. elizabeth

    This is for the narrow minded thinkers such as Bezekur and kOrrupt. I am soon going to end my own suffering and wanted to share my own thoughts, as written on my Facebook page. I hope that maybe a little bit of this could broaden your understanding and heighten your emotional intelligence

    It's difficult for someone to imagine the deep feelings of hopelessness, despair and being trapped in their life unless you have had the misfortune of being there. You end up with the cursed feeling that your very soul and your spirit have perished before your body is ready to depart this earth and that you are thus trapped to either endure this feeling of living death or to equalize your mortal being with your deceased spirit.

    I believe that the general thinking that seeking help through counselling and psychiatry is nothing but pure foolishness. I hope it does work for others, but I find the notion that "words" can solve such dark feelings of hopeless and despair impossible to accept and hopelessly naive. When things get this bad, no one can help you and seeking help only makes things worse because you can legally be incarcerated and then isolated like a leper by those who don't understand you.

    I believe that each person has the right to end their life to eliminate the torture and pain that plagues them. I've been suicidal for five long years now and have been living with this intense and unending pain only because I am scared of the pain that my death will bring to my mom

    July 27, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • james

      @elizabeth – I was like that for a while. Some days I just laid in bed and wet myself. Most rational people would not even consider this and it would seem absurd. True depression is not something a few kind words will fix. I needed medication to help me be able to even START to fix the problems. I still had to face them (and still feel defeated quite often), but I know that I would hurt too many people to give in. I agree that suicide is cowardly, but also people need to know that when you are at that point, your brain just isn't thinking the way it's supposed to. You aren't rationalizing cause and effect and all the ripples that it will cause – it just hurts, and you dont know how to stop it.

      I have 2 children and a wife and if not for the pain I know I'd cause them, I'd probably be willing to go through with it at least once a week (even now, after "therapy").

      Find things that fill your life with joy and cling to them. Exercise to help regulate moods and encourage endorphins. Get sunlight. Make healthy friendships that show you the value of life you have to offer to others. Religion does help, but spirituality and knowing your worth as a Child of God to your brothers and sisters helps even more.

      Life is a struggle for everyone it seems, but some people have learned tools to cope with it. Seek out those tools. Don't give up.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jessicaber

    Everyone is a child of God. Even you Jim.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ralph

      God is not real, Jessica but we love you anyway.

      July 27, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. PhilG.

    One of the major effects of people fighting depression drinking large amounts of alchohol is the next day as their bodies shed the effects of the alchohol,a brain chemical imbalance occurs that drastically deepens the depression that person is suffering.

    If let go unchecked or even worse,if the person starts drinking all over again-that deepening depression cycle will get worse and worse-until the mental pain that person in suffering becomes unbearable.

    Please-if you suffer from depression stay as far away from any alchohol-even in beer- as you can-that one action might save your life.

    Debilitating Depression is caused by a major imbalance in brain chemistry and it can come on you suddenly or over a period of months or years.

    Your brain chemistry and keeping it healthy is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING you can do to keep living at least a decently happy life.

    ANYONE can find themselves attacked by life-it's just that no one usually sees how bad you are feeling until it is too late.

    Get help-don't fight it alone.

    Depression does kill people everyday.

    July 27, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. k0rrupt

    DB;

    You can spare me your moronic, ignorant, sanctimonious opinion about my 'lack of compassion'.

    FYI; I was a wonderful friend to them – I took all three of them to therapy to make sure that they actually went. I was there for them day and night 24/7. At the end of the day, you can only help someone so much, and then they have to help themselves.

    I've been through many trials and tribulations in my own life, some of which many people wouldn't have been able to emotionally deal with. I quit my job to personally take care of my terminally ill father because I refused to dump him off in some miserable nursing home. For 6 years day and night,24/7, I was by his side, for everything. I was also there by his side when he slipped into a comma and laid in his bed dying. I laid next to him, cried, and held his hand until he died. My father fought his illness every single day, and never felt sorry for himself. When it was time for him to go, and that's what he wanted, I made sure that he was able to.

    I am currently helping take care of my remaining best friend (from high school) with Parkinsons... who struggles every single day and refuses to give up – he has good days and he he has bad days, but he makes an effort – he has more guts than any spinless moron that feels sorry for themselves and offs themselves.

    Someone that is perfectly physically healthy, has family that cares about them, but has emotional trauma in their life and is lame and feels so sorry for themselves that they off themselves rather than dealing with it – well that person is selfish, spineless, gutless, weak, and a pathetic coward.

    If the person is totally alone in their life with absolutely no family at all and absolutely no friends, and they off themselves – well that's just pathetic, spineless, and cowardly.

    DB; when your life turns difficult, maybe you'll off yourself too and join those same ranks of the gutless. I have no compassion for pathetic cowards that allow themselves the luxury of checking out because they have emotional issues and are too lame to deal with their everyday life.

    DB

    kOrrupt, maybe you should have been a better friend to the friends you had that committed suicide. I would imagine a friend like you who judges and tells them to "grow a pair" would be enough to send anyone that was depressed over the edge. Too bad Compassion is not something you can buy, because you obviously never had it to begin with.
    Selfish – you are....to only think of what suicides did to you not what drove them to it.

    July 27, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Richardson

      You continue to ignore the role of the PHYSIOLOGICAL condition of depression and its effect on impairing judgment. You are indeed ignorant and uncompassionate. Your own words here prove it when you call people 'lame' and suggest that they 'refuse' to deal with things that they probably struggled mightily with, but couldn't beat under the impairment of depression or certain other illnesses and syndromes.

      July 28, 2011 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
    • ldean50

      I understand how suicide can cause you to feel angry when you've spent so much of your life taking care of people who are fighting to live. I just wanted to point out to you that depression is a chronic and too often terminal disease, just like Parkinsons, or other diseases you've help your friends and family fight. Depression is different in that it is unseen, and impossible to describe to others because there is no point of reference for understanding the despair and hopelessness. I have counseled people for many years – what makes me most sad about your feelings is the fact that you perceive suicide as a selfish act when it is actually an overwhelming and monumental act of self-loathing – absolutely, unequivocally, and extremely diametrically opposed to self centeredness and/or selfishness.

      August 16, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. chillipepper

    looks like he really took a turn for the worse and went down hill. rim shot!

    July 28, 2011 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  13. EmGeeKay

    This is so sad, and my condolences go to his family and loved ones. I remember him from watching the Olympics in Vancouver. Just his energy and that humongous smile on his face made me remember him. It's funny because I don't remember anyone else from those Olympics except the female skier, and I can't even remember her name. Oh, yeah, and Apollo Ono. But I do remember Speedy. I'm terribly sorry that something devastated him so much that he thought taking his life was the answer. It's our loss. I for one will never forget that smile.

    July 28, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Idaho Spud

    He got arrested and charged driving drunk a few days before. Half of the deaths in USA are from Alcohol related accidents, lucky he only killed himself!

    July 28, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chris

    Sad news! I remember first reading about Jeret Peterson in either a men's health or sports illustrated article. It was eerie how much we look a like and seemed to have that childhood ADD behavior that neither of us seemed to grow out of. I was really hoping Jeret would be back in Russia in 2014 and by that time I would be reading about his new life and family. In the end, I hope he found saving grace in the Lord and my thoughts go out to his peeps and family.

    August 4, 2011 at 3:08 am | Report abuse |
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