Extreme Kayaker, Big Mountain Skier Dean Cummings Charged with Murder

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Dean Cummings, a longtime Alaskan whitewater kayaker and founder of heli ski outfit Valdez H20 Heli Adventures in 1995, is behind bars after deputies say he shot and killed a man during a dispute in a rural area town west of Jemez Pueblo.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, Stephen Montoya, Sandoval County spokesman, said 54-year-old Dean Cummings is charged with an open count of murder in the Feb. 29 death of Guillermo Arriola.

The story further reports that the statement of probable cause filed in Magistrate Court notes that Cummings called 911 around 5:45 p.m. to report that he was attacked by Arriola and shot him dead. Sandoval County Sheriff’s Deputies found Cummings outside a mobile home in San Luis, NM, and arrested him. Arriola’s body was found face down inside the mobile home and a rifle was on the stairs outside. Cummings told deputies he shot Arriola after Arriola sprayed his face with a “burning chemical.”

Powder magazine reports that Cummings, 54, is a former U.S. Freestyle Ski Team member who took second place at the inaugural World Extreme Skiing Championships in 1991, behind Doug Coombs, and won the won the event in 1995. The magazine reports that in 2012, he claimed the Best Line Award for the first descent of Meteorite Mountain’s Dragon’s Back off Thompson Pass, and that he has claimed more than 220 first descents, mostly in Alaska’s Chugach range.

Cummings has a YouTube channel containing such whitewater clips as Kayaking the Rio Embudo with Ed Lucero and Dean Cummings from 2014, during which they ran the Class V river at an all-time high of 4.5 feet on the Dixon gauge. Cummings also has numerous first descents in Alaska and starred in the paddling film PaddleQuest. He was also part of a team that ran the first descent of California’s North Fork of the American River’s Royal Gorge in 1998, along with Scott Lindgren, Tao Berman, Clay Wright and Tom Waclow.

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