CARRABASSETT VALLEY — A 41-year-old Canadian man who was visiting the Sugarloaf ski resort with his wife and two children died Thursday after he skied into a tree.

David Morse of Harmony, Nova Scotia, died shortly after 5 p.m. in an ambulance that was taking him to Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, said Carrabassett Valley Police Chief Scott Nichols, whose department acts as Sugarloaf’s security force.

When members of the Sugarloaf Ski Patrol responded to the accident at 3:43 p.m. in falling snow, they found Morse conscious and alert, wearing goggles and a helmet. As an intermediate skier, he told them, he wasn’t used to skiing in powder, Nichols said.

Morse told rescue workers that an edge on his skis had caught in the snow, causing him to lose control and ski into the woods off the Lower Timberline trail.

Though the route on the western side of the mountain is described as an easier trail, it has “wide, sweeping turns, and you can get some speed on it,” Nichols said.

Morse’s wife and children were not skiing with him at the time of the crash, Nichols said.

It took the Ski Patrol 12 minutes to get Morse off the mountain and to the Sugarloaf First Aid Clinic, near the base lodge, Nichols said. He did not know the exact nature of Morse’s injuries.

Paramedics from NorthStar Ambulance took over Morse’s care once he arrived at the clinic. They encountered treacherous roads on the way to the hospital in Farmington.

“The roads were extremely slippery,” Nichols said. “Travel wasn’t much more than 35 mph out there — a lot of things working against us.”

The drive from Sugarloaf to the hospital normally takes about an hour.

A spokesman for the state Medical Examiner’s Office said the cause of Morse’s death will probably be released next week.

Morse was the manager of the largest branch of Valley Credit Union, in Greenwood, Nova Scotia.

Bill Falconer, vice president of organizational development for the credit union, hired Morse in 1999. He learned of his employee’s death when he arrived at work Friday morning.

The employees of the small credit union are in shock, particularly the nine workers at the Greenwood branch, which closed Friday because of Morse’s death, Falconer said.

Michael Wark, president and chief executive officer of Valley Credit Union, said the employees are devastated.

“He was loved by all his employees and will be sadly missed,” Falconer said. “He was very involved in our community.”

Ethan Austin, communications manager at Sugarloaf, said the mountain got 7 inches of snow on Thursday, on top of a base of mostly man-made snow. Skiing conditions were good on Friday, but people at the mountain were subdued because of Morse’s death, he said.

Sugarloaf General Manager John Diller said in a press release that Sugarloaf skiers are a close-knit group “and a loss like this is felt throughout the community.”

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Erin Rhoda can be contacted at 612-2368 or at:

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