Skiers being told to slow down on hills
DENVER – Just in case skiers and boarders didn’t get the message when a jury convicted a reckless skier for criminally negligent homicide, state and local officials issued a new warning Monday.
”Skiers who are reckless can expose themselves to millions of dollars in civil damages, and they can also expose themselves to long prison terms if they injure or kill someone on the slopes,” said Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar.
Salazar issued the warning with Summit County Sheriff Joe Morales and District Attorney Mike Goodbee. Goodbee’s district is home of Colorado’s three busiest ski areas and site of last month’s conviction of a reckless skier.
Goodbee persuaded a jury to convict Nathan Hall of criminally negligent homicide in the death of skier Alan Cobb of Denver in 1997. Hall hit Cobb while skiing out-of-control down Vail Mountain at the end of his shift as a lift operator.
Hall was the first skier in the country convicted of causing another skier’s death. The former ski racer faces up to six years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 4.
Salazar said skiers and boarders should be aware the Colorado Ski Safety Act of 1979 requires them to ski or board within their ability level, ”maintaining a proper lookout so as to avoid other skiers and objects, and to refrain from conduct which may cause injury to others.”
Failure to conform to the rule constitutes negligence without any proof that it was intentional, according to the law.
And Morales warned skiers and boarders ”will be held civilly and criminally liable for their actions if they engage in reckless conduct that endangers the health and safety of fellow skiers.”
The Colorado Supreme Court has already made clear that prosecutions for such violations are legal. It overturned rulings by two lower courts to reinstate the case against Hall after they threw out the case against the Chico, Calif., skier.
The two trial courts dismissed the charges against Hall on grounds that a reasonable person would not have expected skiing too fast to cause another person’s death. The Supreme Court overruled that finding, agreeing with prosecutors that it gave reckless skiers carte blanche.
David Perry, president of Colorado Ski Country USA, said skier safety also is the highest priority of the ski industry.
On the Net:
National Ski Areas Association safety initiatives: http://www.nsaa.org/SAFETY/safetyinitiativetoc.htm
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