July 26, 2011
On the night before London is set to celebrate the one-year-out mark for the 2012 Summer Games, the Olympic movement has lost one of its own. Jeret "Speedy" Peterson reportedly took his own life and was found dead Monday night in a remote canyon in Utah.
Before the 29-year-old shot himself, police said he called 911. The way he took his life is eerily similar to a moment he described to Yahoo! Sports columnist Jeff Passan:
Speedy Peterson sat in the parking lot at a gun range in Park City, Utah, in 2007 with knives, pills, booze, a garden hose and duct tape. He was determined to kill himself using some sort of combination of them. He called his girlfriend to say goodbye.
"I was never scared at all," he said. "I was totally OK killing myself. And that's when it really scares you. It makes you feel crazy. All I really wanted to do was stop hurting."
Pain was an ongoing problem in Peterson's life. He lost a sister in a drunk-driving accident and was reportedly sexually abused as a child. During the 2006 Olympics in Turin, he got into a drunken brawl with a friend and was sent home by the United States Olympic Committee.
That led Peterson into the drunken, pill-addicted spiral that ended in his contemplation of suicide. A police officer stopped him before he did it, and he was able to get his life back together and return to aerial skiing. A more grounded Peterson won silver with a jump called the "Hurricane," an astonishing mixture of flips and turns.
On Friday, Peterson was arrested for speeding and drunk driving. Three days later, he took his own life. He is being remembered for not only his Olympic achievements but for being a kind soul and a good friend.