Aspen Skiing Co. Cleared By Tramway Board

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Publish Date

06/26/2007

SAM Magazine-Denver, Colo., June 26, 2007-The Colorado Tramway Safety Board has cleared the Aspen Skiing Company of any wrongdoing in conjunction with a Feb. 19 incident that involved a 10-year-old German girl who fell approximately 60 feet from a chairlift at Aspen Highlands. The Board voted 4 to 3 to dismiss the complaint.

The girl, who was in a ski school class at the time of the accident, suffered a broken wrist and punctured lung, among other injuries.

At the heart of the complaint were the actions of lift operator Chris Snell, who saw that the girl, Celine Ofenito, had slipped from the chair and was hanging from it. Snell did not immediately halt the lift, fearing that a sudden stop could cause the girl to fall while fellow passengers attempted to pull her back onto the chair. By the time another operator halted the lift's operation, Ofenito had fallen.

Dave Bellack, an attorney for the Aspen Skiing Company, argued to the Board that the lift operator had made "what he thought was the correct decision" at the time of the incident, and while that decision may be questionable in hindsight, it could not be proven to be the incorrect decision at the time.

The ruling means that the resort will not be held liable for the incident. Nor will the board discipline the Skiing Co. for the incident.

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