SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ The parents of a 16-year-old snowboarder who was found dead in a snowdrift Tuesday implored other teen-agers to remember that they are not immortal.

Joel Busath was a popular and bright high school junior, an accomplished Boy Scout who was planning to be a Mormon missionary. Muscular and athletic, he was a varsity water polo player, a fine skier and a great snowboarder.

But his parents say he made two mistakes. He went for a big thrill, and went for it alone.

Joel apparently jumped off a 30-foot cliff into a snow drift at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort on Monday. Rescuers found him nearly 15 hours later, suffocated under the snow.

``Just be careful. You're not immortal like you think you are when you're a teen-ager,'' Joel's father, Bill Busath, told reporters.

His mother, Lisa Busath, added: ``Don't be by yourself. Don't go off the beaten path. Always stay with a buddy.''

Joel tried to talk friends into jumping with him; he had jumped from the same site a year ago, Placer County sheriff's deputies said.

His friends declined and left to wait for him lower on the ski run.

Investigators said Joel apparently threw his snowboard over the cliff, then jumped. But snow conditions were very different from last year. He was instantly buried, and snow erased any signs of where he had fallen.

When a rescuer with a search dog finally found the spot at about 2 a.m. Tuesday, the teen-ager was dead.

His parents discussed the death of their only son as they sat in their living room across from a Christmas tree.

Outside, one of the boy's six sisters cried and dabbed tears with a tissue as she sat on a trampoline in the back yard.

The Busaths said they found comfort in their religious beliefs and their knowledge that Joel was doing what he loved when he died.