Funeral today for Pleasanton teen who died in skiing accident

Aline Christina Martins, 19, found in a tree well with loose powder at Dodge Ridge ski resort

A funeral mass will be held at noon today for a Pleasanton teen who died Monday at Dodge Ridge ski resort.

Nineteen-year-old Aline Christina Martins, a Pleasanton native who attended Amador Valley High School, was believed to have suffocated after falling into a tree well with a thick patch of snow that had fallen over the weekend.

According to Tuolumne County Sheriff's spokesman Paul Tualla, Martins was snowboarding with her brother when they became separated.

"They got separated at some point in the late afternoon," Tualla said. "She didn't meet up with him and he contacted the ski patrol. They sent out a search party to look for her. They eventually located her by a tree."

Sally Helm, who owns the ski resort with her husband, Frank Helm, said Martins' brother first contacted the ski patrol at about 1 p.m.

"Then, at that time, we initiated a message board system and paging system, looking for the sister," Helm said. "Then, he returned to ski patrol right around 4:40."

At that time, as the chair lifts were closing down and skiers and boarders were leaving, the resort initiated a search for Martins.

"We began a systematic approach to getting people out around the base area, getting all of the patrollers to the location of where she was last seen by her brother," Helm said.

Rescuers performed CPR, but resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful. Helm said first responders could not detect a pulse and Martins was not breathing.

"Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family," Helm said. "We were just all very sad here."

A tree well is an area between trees where new snow can build up and form pockets. Skiers and snowboarders can quickly become trapped. Dodge Ridge is located in Pinecrest, about 30 miles from Sonora.

An autopsy was conducted Tuesday to determine an official cause of death, Tualla said, but the coroner has not released the results yet.

Martins and her family moved to Danville from Pleasanton last year, and she finished her senior year through San Ramon's Venture independent study school. Prior to that, she attended Harvest Park Middle, Mohr Elementary and Alisal Elementary schools. She recently moved to Santa Barbara and was attending Santa Barbara City College with a major in child psychology. She was said to love children and had always enjoyed being a nanny, both locally and in Santa Barbara. She was known to always have a smile on her face.

"She was a sweet girl," said family friend Debra Block.

Martins was born June 26, 1989 and was the daughter of Adenise Medeiros and Armelio Martins. She is also survived by her siblings, Jardel and Murillo Martins. She was a granddaughter, niece and cousin to family in Brazil.

On Jan. 29, she was naturalized and became a U.S. citizen. She modeled, played soccer for Amador, was a gymnast and a straight-A student. For a time, she worked at ClubSport Pleasanton.

The services will be held at St. Augustine Catholic Church, 3999 Bernal Ave., including a visitation from 10 a.m. to noon and a funeral mass beginning at noon.

Donations in her honor may be made to the Children's Make A Wish Foundation.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Amador Mom
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 18, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Oh how tragic! I am so sorry for the family.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Doo Doo
a resident of Valley Trails
on Feb 18, 2009 at 1:00 pm

I can't imagine the pain they must feel. My prayers are with you. This is the kind of tragedy that a community should 'be there' for the living victims.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by jordyn
a resident of Dublin
on Feb 18, 2009 at 1:25 pm

this whole situation is unreal. i used to work with aline. i just saw her when she was home for x-mas break. its brutaly shocking. its things like this that really puts life into perspective.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rick
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 18, 2009 at 5:24 pm

I've had it with these ski resorts.
How many young people have to die before something is done to improve safety.
They should comb the mountain EVERY DAY looking for hazards.
Instead they let their customers discover them.

I am deeply saddened by this story.
My condolences to the family.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by co workers at the club
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2009 at 12:18 am

We love you Aline !!!

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2009 at 11:24 am

I would sue if I were her family. Why? She was not out of bounds. Were there any signs warning her?

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Feb 19, 2009 at 3:08 pm

I'm not familiar with Dodge Ridge but I will remember never to visit.
The safest ski resorts are in Europe. I mostly ski cross country now. There needs to be a very thorough investigation. Safety first, always.

Very very sad.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Friend of Pleasanton
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Our hearts should go out to this family and prayers for their loss...we should NOT however, be discussing "suing" anyone! My goodness people! Skiing and especially snowboarding, (as with many sports) come with an inherent risk. She was a good athlete and knew the risks, no one is at fault, it was a tragic, tragic accident.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by another resident
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 19, 2009 at 4:10 pm

That is RIGHT, Friend of Pleasanton!! Skiing is a dangerous sport; those of us who take up the sport know we could die doing it. This is a tragic, horrible accident. My family knew Aline and are deeply, deeply saddened by this horrible news. My heart is aching for her family and her brother especially. Let's not degrade to blaming and fault-finding and talk of suits (We are the most unfree 'Free' country in the world because of lawsuit-happy people!!) and let us rise higher and make "Donations in her honor to the Children's Make A Wish Foundation."

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2009 at 5:25 pm

This is very sad, my thoughts and prayers are with the family. Here is some information to keep in mind about tree wells and snow safety:

Web Link

Text of link in case you have trouble accessing it:

Skiing and snowboarding off of the groomed runs and in deep powder snow is one of the most exciting and appealing parts of our sport.

If you decide to leave the groomed trails, you are voluntarily accepting the specific risks of falling into tree wells or deep snow and suffocating, however, fortunately these types of accidents are very preventable.

Each skier or snowboarder controls his or her own level of risk and are the only ones that can prevent this type of accident from happening. To minimize your risk, you must know how to travel safely with your partners in these ungroomed deep snow areas.

This personal safety information is intended to assist all skiers and riders in learning about the risks and prevention of tree well and deep snow immersion accidents. If you still have questions please contact your ski patrol.

A deep snow or tree well accident occurs when a rider or skier falls into an area of deep unconsolidated snow and becomes immobilized. The more the person struggles the more entrapped in the snow they become.

If a partner is not there for immediate rescue, the skier or rider may die very quickly from suffocation - in many cases, they can die as quickly as someone can drown in water.

Deaths resulting from these kinds of accidents are referred to as a NARSID or Non-Avalanche Related Snow Immersion Death.

The odds of surviving a deep snow immersion/NARSID accident are low; especially if you are not with a partner. In two experiments conducted in the U.S. and Canada in which volunteers were temporarily placed in a tree well, 90% COULD NOT rescue themselves.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Here is the link again:

Web Link

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mom of a friend of Aline's
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2009 at 7:45 pm

My son had just met Aline during her visit to the Dallas, TX area over the Christmas holidays and spent as much time as he could with her during that period. She phoned him last Saturday to thank him for the roses he sent for Valentine's Day. They had a lot in common, both studying psychology in college, both loved to play soccer. They talked daily on the phone since she left Dallas to go back home and talked about how she loved to snowboard. This is a very tragic event and my prayers go out to her family. I never got to meet her, but my son had sent me a picture of her when she was in Dallas and told me all about her. She sounded like an incredible young woman! We will keep her family in our prayers. Just remember and treasure the good times you had with her, her beautiful smile, and know that she is in God's hands now.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Molly
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Aline was a wonderful babysitter to my children. She was a lovely young lady. Our deepest sympathy goes out to her family.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by saddened
a resident of Livermore
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:55 am

An accident like this is so tragic. You can lose a loved one so fast without warning. My heart and prayers goes out to the family. I cannot imagine the pain they must feel. She will be at peace with God but the family must somehow go on. So sad...

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Boggs
a resident of Pleasanton Village
on Feb 20, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Just remember the BEST times-- Jardel keep your head up she'd want you to do that.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Vandenson family
a resident of another community
on Feb 24, 2009 at 12:51 am

Dearest Martins Family

You know how much we love you - God Bless you all and know that you precious Aleni is in His gentle arms, proteced and happy, watching and keeping over us all...our deepest sympathies, prayers, and undending love are always with you, especially now during your time in Brazil. We love you all so very very much,
Vandenson Family
(Mechelle, Brian, Brady, shaley, and Kylie)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by An Amador Family
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2009 at 2:29 pm

Our hearts ache for your loss. What a special young lady with many gifts. May every memory you have of Aline bring your broken hearts closer to healing and the love and support of the community help to carry you.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Katie C
a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 27, 2009 at 7:04 pm

I love you Aline

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sammy
a resident of Las Positas
on Apr 2, 2009 at 7:49 am

she used to babysit me and i just found out yesterday...why is it that all of the good people have the shortest lives, she was like a sister to me and she will always be in my heart...i love you aleni!!! r.i.p

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Murillo Martins
a resident of San Ramon
on May 31, 2010 at 9:53 pm

I Love You Aline .

Please pray for my sister, and have Faith in God.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by A denise M.
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 18, 2011 at 7:41 am

Thanks for the words, Aline was a beautiful, loving daughter that gave me so much love during her shortest passage in this world. Life has been a roller coaster since feb.16, however God has touched our hearts in so many different ways. Thank you for your words of encouragement and love for my beautiful Aline.God bless each one of you with his glory.Adenise

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