24-Year-Old National Guard Airman Dies Snowboarding at Mall's Indoor Slope


A New York man died Thursday after an indoor snowboarding accident in a New Jersey mall.

Peter Mathews, 24, of Bay Shore, fell backward and hit his head while going down a slope, according to Newsday.

Companions found Mathews unconscious and saw that he was having difficulty breathing, so a friend who is a registered nurse started CPR with chest compressions, along with EMTs at the facility, according to the report.

The accident happened at the Big Snow park inside the American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, according to the report.

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Mathews was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center, but he was later pronounced dead, according to

A friend who was snowboarding with Mathews, Beno Varghese of Elmont, gave Newsday some details about the accident.

“He really just had like a routine, normal fall,” Varghese said. “He fell back and hit his head. I saw him on the ground. I ran up and he was already unconscious.”

Varghese and the other friends in Mathews’ group gathered in a circle and prayed for him while the emergency responders worked on him, Varghese said, according to the report.

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Mathews, his sister, and their group of friends had gone to Big Snow as a “warm-up” for a skiing and snowboarding trip to Vermont the next day, Sarah Mathews told Newsday.

Mathews, who had no known health problems, was wearing a helmet and other safety gear at the time of the fall, his sister said.

“His family said they were shocked by his death, had no immediate explanation, and were awaiting results of an autopsy,” according to the news outlet.
Mathews was an airman first class in the Maryland Air National Guard. He was a crew chief assigned to the 175th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, reported.

The 175th Wing announced Mathews’ passing Saturday on its Facebook page and praised the young man’s work with the Air National Guard.

“Earlier this year, Mathews mobilized with his squadron and A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft from the 104th Fighter Squadron to support two U.S. Army Europe-led exercises in Eastern Europe: Swift Response and Defender Europe 22. He was awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal for his accomplishments during those exercises,” according to the post.

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In a statement, U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Golabiewski said, “Peter was genuinely an amazing person, and his smile lit up the room. If you had a chance to talk to him, you knew instantly he had a remarkable future and was destined for greatness,” reported.

“He was in the process of following in his father’s footsteps to become a pilot. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and anyone who knew Peter.”

Peter was active in youth ministry, including leading retreats, his sister told Newsday.

Matthews’ father told WABC-TV that the young man had hoped to become a commercial pilot and that he loved robotics.

Matthews will be buried Monday at Calverton National Cemetery in Riverhead, in a military-led ceremony, the TV station reported.

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Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.
Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.