Teen charged in ski death

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Publish Date

03/01/2005

SAM Magazine --- Jackson Hole, Wyo., Mar. 1, 2005 --- A 16-year-old snowboarder was charged with manslaughter Feb. 25 following a fatal collision with a 28-year-old woman at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, according to published reports.

According to the Teton County Sheriff's Office, the crash occurred just after 11 a.m. Feb. 24 near the bottom of Laramie Bowl, an intermediate run on the upper part of Rendezvous Mountain. The snowboarder was moving very fast and hit the woman, who was skiing slowly, witnesses said. The snowboarder made no attempt to avoid the skier even though there was ample room to do so, witnesses said.

The woman, who was not wearing a helmet, immediately lost consciousness. She suffered numerous internal injuries, and a significant head injury which was cited as the preliminary cause of death, according to the sheriff's office.

The snowboarder, who was wearing a helmet, had only minor injuries. He was charged with manslaughter under Section B of the state statute for "involuntarily but recklessly" killing someone and also charged with reckless endangerment. The manslaughter charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment; endangerment carries a maximum one-year jail penalty.

Comments

Pro Patrol Director

Sorry about that, My proof reading missed a mistake in section b.) of the next opinion.
I meant to say that Most on a snowboard do not feel that working on the perfect turn is all that thrilling. The thrill is in the speed! Right? Thanks, and sorry for being too long winded in the post. ;)

Pro Patrol Director/ Resort unimportant

Having read through many of the submitted posts, I feel the need to add that yes, there are reckless behaviors happening in both the skiing crowd as well as the snowboarding crowd. As someone who has been on the frontlines in dealing with the issue of recklessness on the slopes for many years now. The things that I have witnessed personally do point to what I feel is a higher danger being presented by the Snowboarder who is straight-lining or bombing a run, and this is due to a combination of more than one factor.
A.) We all know that the learning curve on a snowboard is dramatically shorter than that of a skier. Not to say that beginner and intermediate skiers who are going too fast do not also present a hazard. Just that it takes much less time for a young, (or mature) snowboarder to get to a point where he /she starts to become more confident in thier ability level. And this is an overconfidence that thier actual ability should allow. In other words within a very short period of time they are able to go much faster that they should for the amount of actual time that they have spent on the slopes. ( they haven't paid the dues that it takes to gain the wisdom needed to be able to know that the skills they have gained so quickly can also lead to thiers, or someone elses demise).
b.) Another factor is the fact that snowboarding does not lend itself to moguls. Very few Snowboarders like moguls plain and simple. They can get down them, but most, once the fresh powder is gone are relegated to the groomed beginner and intermediate runs, and, of course, terrain parks. But then many terrain parks have these same runs either leading to them or from them.
I will also propose that many snowboarders do feel that working on the perfect turn is all that thrilling for them. So how do they to get thier ya yas, they straight-line the intermediate or beginner runs. You've got to admit going fast is FUN! Right?
c.) Finally the clencher. On a snowboard we all know what would happen if you were to catch an edge at a high rate of speed, We also know that only the best most seasoned riders are able to proficiently ride thier edge and carve at speeds over 40-50 mph. An intermediate on a snowboard can reach these speeds,( on a flat Board), no problem. We know this, we have all seen it. In fact this type of activity is happening at an alarming rate on our slopes. I have a folder as thick as a Gidion bible in my file cabinet filled with complaints about speeding snowboarders and adults and small children being run over on the slope by them...
Once our agressive, (Young adult or teen male), ussually who is on a snowboard ,has reached the maximum velocity that straight lining down a slope can get them, they are at thier most dangerous, because they are cannot, (are unable) to change direction. The best that they can do is hit the brakes, (thier Heel edge), and try to stop in time. Sorry but all too often by then it is too late. Thier heel edge begins skipping and they proceed with gravity in a straight line at the person or object that has make the mistake of being in thier way.
Sorry if this seems too Bias against Snowboarding. It is just the reality of our times... and many people have been hurt because of it.., until we can get the point across to all of our guests on the slopes to be in control all the time, it will continue and many more will be injured or killed.

Sideline commentary

Do we all need to take a step back and recognize that we do not know the true circumstances in this incident? To say as the article does that the snowboarder "made no attempt to avoid" the woman is misleading. Does anyone really think that he hit her on purpose? Accidents happen all the time- only they usually involve the skier or rider making a poor decision and suffering the consequences on his/ her own. How many deaths have occured in the East this year from collisions with trees or other immovable objects? Do we chalk that up to suicide? Unfortunately this mistake involved another party who happened to be killed, but we should not be so quick to hang the teen who is already suffering with the guilt of what happened- something none of us can comment on. Needless to say something must be done (proactively maybe?), but it seems extreme to send the kid to jail for manslaughter. It scares me to think of where the ski industry might head if this is the direction we turn.
As far as snowboarders scraping all the snow off the trail, I thought we got over that opinion years ago.

Beware

I have had situations were reckless snowboarders threatened myself or my ski partners on slopes in Austria, Utah and Idaho. After close calls I ski up to them and they get a racing glove to the face. This is a very rare situation, happening only 5 times in 20 years but I will not be victimized by those without regard for the Code.

RE: Sideline Commentary

I mostly agree with you.

However, totally unrelated to the control issue, if you can't tell the difference in a bump run that has been skied off by gapers and boarders vs. an expert bump run with a distinct zipper - then you just don't understand where I'm coming from. There is nothing to get over - it's just a preference. Have you ever seen a bump contest with snowboards? That's what I'm talking about!
This has nothing to do with being anti boarders - I beleive snowboarding has had a very positive influence on the ski industry. That being said, skis shape the bumps differently than snowboards - thats all I'm saying. That's why I recommended Taos - for the quality of the runs.

I can't believe I just explained that.

Stay In Control

The bottom line is slopes can be more crowded with the onset of detachable lifts. This is a sport that does not get the respect you should have from the participants. Look at the lift incidents, riders continually blaming the operators for misloads. You can not bomb down the slopes un- checked,and this young person is responsible for the death of that woman , it would be the same as if he were driving a car and hit someone. I'm sure he does feel bad but he needs to be held accountable.

Turning this into something its not...

A woman is dead. A young person has screwed up his life. He will never be able to forget the seconds before the crash, the crash itself or the aftermath. Jail is not a place for that young person. This is NOT about skiers vs. snowboarders. I have spent the last 14 years in the ski industry and have witnessed MANY more out of control skiers then riders. I believe that as an industry we need to do a better job of conveying the CODE and promoting helmet use. Perhaps if she had a helmet on she would have had a chance.

It is the young age!

I spend a lot of time on the slopes, and witness all the fast and high speeders some in control some on the edge. Speed is fun, but control is common sense. Kids are simple on a different level of consciousness when considering safety. Seniors - when was the last time a senior skier gave you a good scare - come on, wake up a ski the powder!

AGE not a factor

I think that the age of the young rider is totally irrelevent in this case. Lets be honest, if we are going to "crack down" on young riders for speed, how about we not allow anyone over the age of 65 on the hill either. I have seen more than one close call caused by seniors on the ski hill. their reflexes and flexiblity are not that of the younger generation, but does that mean we can prohibit or "crack down" on them for wanting to enjoy the slopes?

Bad solution Mr. Thomas

It's not about boarders and skiers. I have witnessed both skiers and boarders going way too fast and out of control. To point at boarders and suggest separate areas like Mr. Thomas has is ridiculous. Crack down on reckless skiing and riding period. In the past, most of the bad press the boarders receive was becaouse of their age and relative fearlessness with regard to speed. Since the 'new school' skiing has taken off, I see many more young skiers skiing way too fast for anyone's safety.

A 28 year old woman is dead

This is not about what you're riding on, rather how you chose to control yourself. If a skier or boarder decides to let it rip, they should know the path and what/who is in front of them. This young rider was doing something we all love to do, however his actions were his choice and he should receive a significant punishment. A one year ban from Stratton, as mentioned below, is a joke. Can you imagine breaking your ankle when your six years old? That may change that kids life forever and it wasn't his fault.

This is a no BS matter - innocent people are getting injured and killed. One solution is to register skiers/boarders in a nationally shared resort database and track offenses. This would be similar to a driving offense. If you can't control yourself - get a shovel and tranceiver - because you don't belong in a resort.

I have skied for 25 years. I don't mind boarders on the mountain. In fact, I prefer to ski with a boarder over a European racer any day. However, I do prefer bump runs that have not been scraped off by snowbaord turns. I highly recommend skiing places like TAOS - there are great runs, great skiers, and no snowboards.

-Former local / life-long skier \

teen charged

I believe that this charge is entirely relevant, as I have witnessed this same behavior by other young snow riders. Many seem to show wanton disregard for other users of the slopes. I'm sure that there will be some type of "settlement" in this case, but hopefully the industry will take advantage of this incident to get the word out to young skiers that there are consequences to this type of action.

Teen charged in ski death

I saw a similar accident at Stratton Mountain, VT while riding the chairlift, about 5 years ago. A boarder was traveling at high speed, on an intermediate trail running into a 6-7 year old boy skiing with his mother, learning to do linked turns. The boarder hit the boy, tossed him up in the air and then ran him over. I was horrified as I heard the crack of a bone breaking. The boarder didn't appear make any attempt to avoid the skier even though there was room and they were the only people on the slope. I got off the lift, reported the incident to the ski patrol and volunteered to be a witness if any action was to be taken against the boarder.

The boy was badly shaken up and had sustained a broken ankle and some cuts as a result of the boarder's negligence. He was very lucky he didn't end up like the skier at Jackson Hole. On the strength of my testimony, the boarder was banned from Stratton for a year. I think that punishment was way too easy.

I'm of the belief that there should be three zones at each ski resort, a skiers only area, a boarders only area and an area for mixed traffic. Why should I be subject to the hazardous behavior of a bunch of irresponsible boarders? Let them run into each other. I want to be left alone to enjoy the mountain in a more civilized manner.


Ed Thomas
Pinnacle Ski & Sports Club
A Member of the CT Ski Council \

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