You haven’t seen KGO’s Luz Peña on the ABC 7 news for four weeks, and it turns out that she suffered a ski accident that left her unconscious and unable to breathe, and she nearly needed to have a leg amputated.
KGO-TV reporter Luz Peña broke one of the most impactful San Francisco news stories yet in 2023 — her February 3 exclusive report about the recent proliferation of sex workers on Capp Street and the mayhem it was causing for residents. That one report has stayed in the news cycle for weeks, leading to barricades on Capp Street, blowback from the firefighters union over said barricades, and even a policy proposal to legalize sex work. Peña’s story was filed on February 3, and she has not aired a story since, even as that original story continued to generate more headlines and developments for weeks.
But now we know why Peña has not filed a story in weeks. Just days after that report aired, KGO now informs us that Peña had a near-death incident in a terrible ski accident when she crashed into a tree at Heavenly Ski Resort. And while she won’t be able to walk again for the foreseeable future, she is well enough to tell her in the segment below that aides this week.
The video has footage taken just five minutes before the accident that nearly took her life. “I crashed head-on into a tree,” Peña explains. “My husband and brother-in-law found me on top of a tree well, motionless, face-down, intertwined into multiple trees.”
“They said my face was blue, my eyes were wide open, and I was making snoring noises,” she adds. “That noise is called a ‘death rattle.’ It’s a sign that a person is approaching death. My brother-in-law kept asking me to blink and I wouldn’t.”
“While my husband held me in his arms, I actually stopped breathing. They estimate that I was unconscious for about ten minutes.”
Peña eventually regained consciousness, but could not answer basic questions. This was in an area with no cellular reception, but a fellow skier had a satellite phone that relayed their geographic coordinates. First responders sledded her down the hill, and she was airlifted to a Reno hospital (“I couldn’t remember any of this,” Peña says), and she nearly needed to have her leg amputated.
The Chronicle adds that “After she was transported down the mountain, she was airlifted to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, where doctors began examining the damage to her leg and other parts of her body. She needed surgery immediately to repair a broken tibia — a bone fragment that was a centimeter away from cutting an artery. “
She now has a plate and eight screws in her leg, and likely won’t be able to walk independently for several months. But she shows up in the KGO segment above at the 6:30 mark, looking remarkably well and recovered, a recovery we’re all pulling for and hoping continues.
And Luz Peña has some advice for viewers.“My helmet truly did make a difference,” she told her KGO colleagues. “Sidenote: Please ski and snowboard with a helmet, especially one with MIPS technology. You’ll know it has MIPS if it has a little sticker in the back. We had just gotten ours a few weeks back. This technology protected my brain during the impact.”
Related: Helmet Cam Video Captures Near-Death Tahoe Ski Stunt Gone Wrong, as Skier Nearly Suffocates Immersed in Snow [SFist]
Image: luzpenatv via Instagram