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. justathought

    This is so, so sad. We know it had nothing to do with populaity, fame or money, but some emotional problem that he just didn't whan't to deal with any longer. It had to be very private, something he didn't or couldn't share with the world and perhaps not even friends and family. but, we all share the loss.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
  2. IHRTU

    How sad a decision can affect so many once you are gone. RIP, champion. Prayers and strength through memories to the family. If you or someone you love is a gambler, get them help, don't wait. 1-800-GA-HELPS.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  3. Boming

    The Hurricane was an amazing achievement
    RIP Speedy

    July 27, 2011 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
  4. Klaark

    Amy Whinehouse (probably) ODs on drugs, this guy shoots himself. Which one gets the condemnation and which one gets the tender RIPs? Insane.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:57 am | Report abuse |
  5. Sorry

    We will always love you Amy Winehouse !

    July 27, 2011 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. Luvinmykiddies

    Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.......so sad.....Suicide only hurts your loved ones people GET COUNSELING.....

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

    Suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems. Life often sucks for everyone. But as much as it blows, it is still an amazing thing.. to hear a child laugh, or a british guy try to pronounce drawing, or to watch The Natural... well it all seems right again for a short time.
    Jeret did more than most do in a lifetime, but that is NO excuse for checking his bags early.

    July 27, 2011 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jake Jakerson

    While someones death is not a laughing matter and I do indeed feel for this man's family and friends, I find it hard to feel sympathy for the man himself. Suicide is one of the most selfish acts one can commit.

    There are millions of people who suffer through their miserable lives day after day without choosing suicide. Suicide may end your grief in this life but it makes the people you left behind suffer and most likely despise you for what you did.

    July 27, 2011 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
  9. Naughty-Victorians

    What is going on in this world...Few days ago was Amy wine house and now this man an Olympic winner...Strange Phenomenon....

    July 27, 2011 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
  10. 50 and still WFO

    I came inside of a breath of doing the same thing 6 years ago. It was the sound of my helpless wife's sobs that brought me *back* from the single decision away. One single thought was how close I was to taking my own life .. a single solitary thought. It was her voice that interrupted that thought. Had it not been for her I would have done it. And in the act of doing so would have made her into a very angry person. She would have died alone and bitter.

    I have her to thank for the rest of my life. Had it not been for the sounds of her sobs i would have made the worst .. and last .. mistake of my life. And in many ways I would have been guilty of murdering one of the most genuine and selfless people on this planet .. my wife of 30+ years.

    It's the single most traumatic event of my life (ex-cop/survivor of the 1992 LA riots, and ex military ... with combat records in both careers. jsyk). I think of the hurt that I inflicted on her that day ... that moment ... every single day. I nearly throw up each time I recall it, as I realize the pain I would have inflicted on those that love me (whether I wish to admit I'm loved or not).

    My stomach aches at the thought of Speedy not having someone there beside him, who's voice may have saved him from the depths of his own creation. I value every waking breath since my own razor's edge brush, I am truly sorry he will no longer wake to another day. Our time here is too short as it is .. there's no need to rush it.

    July 27, 2011 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      That is very touching. I wish you and your wife a long, happy life together. And thank you for your service as a police officer and soldier.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I too came close – 3 times. And you are right: suicide permanently destroys those who are close to it, just as this man was scarred when his friend ended his life all those years ago. If you are depressed and hopeless and tired and all you can think of is that gun in your mouth, know that others have gotten help and have made it past that point to live wonderful happy lives. I did. So did 50 and still WFO. And many more. Life is just too wonderful to throw away...but you may need help to discover this. And whoever it is you love...find them and open your heart and talk to them. But please don't kill yourself. It solves nothing and it destroys those who loved you. Get help. Please get help.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Hoofleau

      I feel your pain and greatly admire your stamina.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:59 am | Report abuse |
  11. RON

    I agree with "justathought" 100%. There was something wrong that none of us will ever know about.

    July 27, 2011 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
  12. Peacemaker

    God speed...

    July 27, 2011 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. j. corb

    I met Jeret on a flight from Salt Lake to L.A. not long after he won the silver medal. He was a delightful guy and was great to my young children. He had his picture taken with them and his medal. He couldn't have been more charming. We exchanged numbers, but I never called him. I was wondering what became of him and now this. It just sucks.

    July 27, 2011 at 2:32 am | Report abuse |
  14. katwagner

    Speedy was arrested four days ago by Blaine County Sheriff deputies for driving 70 mph through Hailey (Idaho). Deputies caught up to him a few miles south at Main Street and Broadford Road in Bellevue. It was 3 a.m. At 2:30 a.m, he was reportedly in a scuffle at the Sun Valley Lodge. Anyway, he was booked on DUI charges, among others. All of Idaho is shocked tonight. Speedy was from Boise.

    July 27, 2011 at 2:37 am | Report abuse |
  15. WEBSPY

    Find peace

    July 27, 2011 at 2:41 am | Report abuse |
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