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. Elysium

    I wish you had reached out and gotten the help you needed for alcoholism and depression. “I know that a lot of people go through a lot of things in their life, and I just want them to realize they can overcome anything.”

    You had overcomed hard landings and inspired many.... wish you could have come back from this one.

    Condolences to all those that loved you. You will be missed here.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:26 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Brandon

    Unfortunately Life isn't For Everyone. :(

    July 27, 2011 at 3:33 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Curtis

    $550,000 in black jack debt??? How stupid can you be?!?!? Still, not a reason to kill yourself.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:40 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Zoundsman

    Good bye Mr. Peterson. The world saw your heights of accomplishment; we can only guess the depths of your lows.
    Great athletes do inspire-thank you.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:44 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. han

    Very sad, no one can imagine what depression it must take to end your life. And from the sound of the article he had a sad childhood.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:45 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Shawn

    My heart goes out to his family and friends, something was on this kids mind. He called the cops because he needed someone to talk him out of it before he did it. I guess the pain becomes so hard it pretty much makes your mind up for you.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Daniel, Little Rock, AR

    Suicide is but a permanent solution to a temporary problem

    July 27, 2011 at 3:48 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • John Richardson

      That's a popular saying (and should have been put in quote marks, lest you be accused of plagiarism), but it is false in many cases and misleading in many others. Many people commit suicide when facing the psychological and physical pain of terminal disease, which is certainly the very opposite of a TEMPORARY problem. Most do it in the throes of depression, which, despite all the self-serving chirpy talk of the pharmaceutical industry, is often NOT easily medicated away or vanquished by any other means. But even when there MAY be real help, the depressed mind often becomes incapable of even imagining a solution.

      July 27, 2011 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
  8. Malestrom

    been there many times. at least 19 not by my own hand. suicide, the only consideration worth considering when the pain of living, outweighs the pain of dying. no one and nothing seems to care and on top of it all you are subjected to irreverent, mouthy beasts like some of the people chimed in here. just interested in them and theirs. when one has chose to sleep rather than a life of inable to cope with the horror of beasts and unevolved neanderthals, death wins every time. socraties could have insisted they be their own murderous executioner but committed suicide and no one seems to be belly aching about that.

    July 27, 2011 at 3:53 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Matt B

    OMG is he okay?

    July 27, 2011 at 3:53 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bill

      Yeah, it'll heal up.

      July 27, 2011 at 3:59 am | Report abuse |
  10. George Anthony

    Cindy did it!

    July 27, 2011 at 4:01 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. huxley

    Youve got to be the world's worst gambler to lose $550,000 in blackjack. Just pay attention to the basic strategy card, that most casinos will give you for free, and it'll take you years to lose that much.

    July 27, 2011 at 4:03 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Trav

      It doesn't say he lost $550,000 playing blackjack. It says he lost $550,000 in blackjack earnings, meaning he won that much playing blackjack, then lost it on other stuff.

      July 27, 2011 at 4:12 am | Report abuse |
  12. LOW LYF

    HMM SOUNDS LIKE NATURE THINNING THE HERD

    July 27, 2011 at 4:07 am | Report abuse | Reply
  13. chris

    Anytime people wonder what's wrong with the U.S., they should bookmark the comments on this article and remind themselves that it's the people, not necessarily the leaders who don't seem to have the collective intelligence of a basket of guinea pigs.

    I have no personal thoughts on this man's suicide but reading these comments is a stark reminder as to why America is in the situation it's currently in.

    July 27, 2011 at 4:17 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bonnie Hare

      It is disheartening to read the snarky comments posted here. I did not know this man but I feel compassion for his struggles and that he felt life was not worth living and for the family and friends he left behind. What is wrong with this country is indeed it's people who are unable to feel compassion for a lost soul.

      July 27, 2011 at 4:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Grace

      Agreed!

      July 27, 2011 at 4:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Stef Fletcher

      Chris,
      I live (as little as possible) in the US and agree with everything you have written in response to the comments here. It is just pathetic to read the comments and think, wow - many of the comments here do represent the citizens of America... shameful...

      July 27, 2011 at 4:54 am | Report abuse |
    • George Booth

      Well said Chris...

      July 27, 2011 at 5:05 am | Report abuse |
    • George Booth

      Well said Chris.
      The USA is in sad shape. Politics as usual. Doesn't anyone have common sense? No, they just want to line their pockets!

      July 27, 2011 at 5:07 am | Report abuse |
    • massms

      Excellent commentary...spot on.

      July 27, 2011 at 5:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Thomas

      Unfortunately this type of comment format allows ignorant late night people to show just how ignorant they are. Sad thing is they're probably proud their comments sitting there at the top. But they in no way reflect the average Americans compassion with regards to this sad and tragic death. The guy was depressed, anyone who has battled depression can tell you suicide can seem like the only way out. It isn't; tragically it appears this guy had no family or friends around him who could recognize the symptoms and try to get him the help he clearly needed to fight his depression. I'm certain the majority of Americans hearts go out to this guys family and friends for their loss.

      July 27, 2011 at 5:39 am | Report abuse |
  14. Dave

    It is a shame that someone so succesful and with so much to look forward to was so sick as to do this act. Most people's lives are much less exciting than this fellow's yet they find satisfaction and hope in their daily grind, no matter how insignificant.

    July 27, 2011 at 4:17 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. LOW LYF

    I BLAME THE TREE HUGGING HIPPIES

    July 27, 2011 at 4:21 am | Report abuse | Reply
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