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U.S. Olympic skier Jeret Peterson takes his own life

By the CNN Wire Staff
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U.S. Olympic skier commits suicide
  • Jeret "Speedy" Peterson won a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Games
  • He left a suicide note in his car, according to CNN affiliate KSL-TV
  • Report: Peterson was arrested on suspicion of DUI on Friday

Check out CNN affiliate KSL-TV in Salt Lake City for the latest reports.

(CNN) -- Freestyle skier Jeret "Speedy" Peterson, who won a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Games, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police in Utah said.

The Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake responded to a 911 call from Peterson, 29, on Monday night, said Lt. Justin Hoyal.

Peterson told police he was going to take his life and said he was in Lambs Canyon, off Interstate 80 between Salt Lake City and Park City, Hoyal told CNN. Officers found him deceased there at about 9:30 p.m. (11:30 p.m. ET), he said.

CNN affiliate KSL-TV in Salt Lake City reported Peterson also left a suicide note in his car.

In 2010, Peterson told an CNN iReporter in Vancouver, Canada, the cheers he received when receiving the silver medal in men's aerials "was one of the coolest feelings in the world." He had competed in two previous Winter Games.

According to a biography on the United States Ski and Snowboard Association website, Peterson picked up the nickname "Speedy" at a summer ski camp in Lake Placid, New York, in the mid-1990s because coaches thought he resembled the cartoon character "Speed Racer" with a big helmet.

He won the 1999 U.S. Junior Championship and took bronze at two straight World Junior Championships in 2000 and 2001.

But Peterson also knew struggles, both in skiing and in his personal life.

His signature jump was called the "Hurricane," which he failed to land in Torino, Italy, during the 2006 Winter Games, dropping him from third to seventh. The next day, Peterson was sent home after a post-party fight, according to the biography.

His sister was killed by a drunk driver in 1987, and a close friend committed suicide in 2005 in front of Peterson, shooting himself in the head as Peterson was walking in the door, Sports Illustrated reported in a 2005 article.

As a child growing up in Idaho, Peterson was sexually abused by someone he would not name, Sports Illustrated said. In 2002, the magazine wrote, he spoke about the experience at a fundraiser for an organization aimed at child abuse prevention, telling a young audience, "If you think you deserved it, I promise it wasn't your fault. I know because I've lived that feeling for a long time."

Sports Illustrated in 2005: Peterson's inner demons

Peterson was arrested in Hailey, Idaho, early Friday on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, CNN affiliate KTVB in Boise, Idaho, reported. Hailey police told KTVB that Peterson was driving more than 70 mph in a 25-mph zone, and failed a field sobriety test. He was booked into jail and posted bail a few hours later, the station reported.

Members of the U.S. Olympic Committee mourned Peterson's passing.

"I know Speedy's friends and family were incredibly proud of his effort in Vancouver, and his achievements were an inspiration to people all over the world," said committee chief executive Scott Blackmun. "The personal challenges Speedy has battled are familiar to all of us, and on behalf of the U.S. Olympic Committee, I'd like to offer my sympathy to Speedy's family and friends. Today is a sad day."

CNN's Anna Rhett Miller contributed to this report.