The snowboarding world has been hard hit by a helicopter crash that killed photographer Thomas Robert “T.R.” Youngstrom, 29 on Saturday, August 9, near Portillo Ski Resort in Chile. The pilot, Jaime Pinto, was also killed.
As an outdoor photographer, Youngstrom was passionate and prolific. His shots were published in Transworld Snowboarding, Snowboard Life, Ski, Skiing, Powder, Bike, Backpacker and Men’s Journal magazines.
As a person, Youngstrom was well loved; his enthusiasm for life was infectious. “He was the coolest guy,” says Transworld’s Eric Wright who met the photographer on a snowboarding trip to Wyoming. “We came to town, opened the phone book and picked a photographer. He turned out to be one of the best guys you’d ever want to work with. He went out of his way to make sure we were not only having fun but also getting the job done.”
The cause of the crash is still a mystery. It was a cloudless sunny morning perfect shooting weather when the tragedy occurred. A retired Chilean air force pilot, Pinto apparently lost control of the Aeroservicio helicopter near a backcountry landing pad. The helicopter turned 180 degrees before plummeting to the 38-degree slope below.
A memorial service for Youngstrom will be held Friday, August 15 at 10 a.m. in Town Park in Telluride where the photographer lived for the past 11 years. In lieu of flowers Youngstrom’s family has requested donations be made to the T.R. Youngstrom Memorial Fund at the Bank of Telluride.