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. Rock Morea

    R.I.P., Speedy. May your pain be finally absolved.

    July 26, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Hi, Jazzzzz.
    That's about it.
    Psychologists think that they understand this special posture, but I've never met one who really did understand it.
    These people have to find it in themselves, and often they can't.
    Many times they are ashamed to tell the truth about their motivations.

    July 26, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Elvis, MJ, Judy Garland...how many stars went out in similar ways without ever bumping their heads?
    It's in the mind.

    July 26, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Noble9

    That's the thing, EVERYone's life is full of tragedy - that's part of being human. I would think an Olympiad, of all people, would know that you can never give up. All he did is push his burden off onto those who love him.

    July 26, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • bresson

      All I can say is your wrong. A sister dying when both were very young, witnessing a friend's suicide while young and impressionable... These are not normal things a person goes through. Yes it does happen to some people who are stronger and can make it, but for others something like this can only eat at you forever. Sad story indeed.

      July 26, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    They don't know who they are.
    That's too simple a statement of it, but all of the problem fits into that statement.

    July 26, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. The Dude

    Before you commit suicide try Nihilism. Nothing loves you.

    July 26, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Rock

      Yeah, that will make people feel better.

      July 27, 2011 at 6:37 am | Report abuse |
  7. Tony Gerards ( Uncovering The Truth )

    Its to bad that people can lose the will to live when the life we have been given by GOD is so very very precious ! Prayers and condolences to his family who must be very heartbroken !! R.I.P. "Speedy" the pain is over......

    July 26, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Cindy

    Some people, like my husband, are very good at hiding their true feelings. They appear happy, well adjusted and say they have no problems. We never know what someone is really thinking. God bless "Speedy" and my husband – may they both rest in peace

    July 26, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • QuanahTX

      Condolences and God Bless, Cindy.

      July 26, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Well, Dude, right.
    But I'm going to stop:
    We're starting to have to say truths that stars like Jeret Peterson cannot say on the Tonight Show.

    July 26, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Heath

    What a frikin tragedy. I'm a big fan of the Winter Olympics so it's even more sad to hear about this news. He did his country, friends and his family proud during the time which he had here. Rest easy Jeret Peterson.

    July 26, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. julia randle

    Sad,sad all the money in the world can't save you.There is always some one you can talk to.God has been my saving grace.

    July 26, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kevin

    Condolences to his family and friends. 🙁 Such a tragedy.

    July 26, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jazzzzzzzz

    Sorry JIF I hear what your saying but really for its not so hard for me say hey this me and who I am, take me or leave me. Unless their true motives are evil...in that case EVIL doesn't like to reveal it self , don't cha know.

    July 26, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Vicki

    Another young person gone too soon!

    July 26, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Miss Macy

    I'm appalled that losing more than half a million dollars at a blackjack table falls into the category of "a personal challenge familiar to all of us." I work hard for my money. I don't gamble. Speedy Peterson must have been insane.

    July 26, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • joejoefromhouston

      Ummm... I think he meant that everyone present was familiar with Jeret's problems, not that they had similar ones.

      July 26, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • ZweiStein

      Perhaps I read it wrong (but I don't think so.) The article does not say that he lost this money playing blackjack or gambling in any form.

      July 26, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • MichaelT808

      @Zwei Stein you are correct. . . the NY times article states "Peterson’s life, short version: He won $550,000 playing blackjack, went bankrupt, considered suicide and kicked alcoholism. His half-sister died in a drunken driving accident when he was 5. His good friend committed suicide at his house, feet from where he stood ". . . He won the money playing blackjack, but did not gamble it all away.

      July 26, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • QuanahTX

      The story doesn't quite make sense to me. It states that he comtemplated suicide after losing $550,000.00 in blackjack earnings. That would mean that he won that amount playing blackjack, then lost it. How? Anyway.........still a tragedy. I've been personally and tragically touched by suicide, and it's a horrible thing to go through, find reason for, etc. Best wishes and heartfelt sympathy for his family, friends, and other loved ones.

      July 26, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • QuanahTX

      @MichaelT808: Thank you for the clarification.

      July 26, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mac

      First, there are many people in Boise and the surrounding Treasure Valley who are shocked and heartbroken about Jeret's death. He was one of our own. My condolences to everyone who knew him.

      Second, you must have misread the comment by the head of the U.S. Olympic Committee. When he said that Peterson's "personal challenges are familiar to us all", he meant that the committee and other Olympians knew of his challenges. Also, he lost $550,000 in blackjack earnings. It doesn't say how he lost it. One can make the assumption that he was up that much and then lost it all. You know the old adage about anytime you assume...

      July 26, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • texgirl2762

      Wow, Miss Macy . . . you sound so cool and perfect and "above it all." Must be nice to be so totally awesome that you find compassion and empathy unnecessary. What a horribly thoughtless and insensitive post.

      July 26, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blosm2431

      Wow Miss Macy! Look up much? Because it sounds like you have spent enough time looking down on people to last a lifetime. Get over yourself and show some compassion.

      July 26, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
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