Klein Frank, P.C. Klein Frank, P.C.

Recent Colorado Ski Accidents: Injuries and Deaths

Image of skis sticking up in the snow

A ski accident that occurred on the morning of February 13 resulted in the eighth skier death of the season, preceded by:

  • One death at Steamboat
  • Two deaths at Breckenridge
  • One death at Keystone
  • One death at Winter Park
  • One death at Eldora
  • One death in the backcountry

By February 14 last ski season, 11 skier and snowboarder deaths had occurred, with 25 occurring through May. While the number of skier/snowboarder deaths is down from last year, the current numbers do show some startling trends.

The Eighth Skier Death of the Season

On February 13, a 46-year-old man died on a ski lift at Vail Mountain after suffocating on his jacket. The Denver Channel reported that the seat was left in an upright position, causing the man to fall through the opening of the chairlift when he sat down.

A spokesperson for the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board, the agency responsible for ski lift inspections, said that a preliminary inspection showed “no lift malfunction or evidence of unsafe operation of the lift.”

However, if the seat was left upside down when the man sat down, it’s alarming that ski lift operators at the mountain did not:

  • Hit the slow down or stop buttons when dangerous situations occur
  • Ensure the seats are in their proper position before passengers sit down
  • Stay vigilant while operating a ski lift

Similar Occurrences

A similar ski lift accident occurred in 2000 when a woman’s seat flipped up on the Arrow Bahn Express lift and she was injured as she fell through. Beaver Creek Resort, the resort that this incident occurred at, is owned and operated by Vail Resorts.

In 2016, a Texas woman died after her and her two young daughters were thrown from a ski lift at Granby Ranch. A lawsuit filed by the woman’s husband claimed that “multiple skiers complained to resort staff about the lift swaying and bouncing in the days before [she] was killed,” yet it was not shut down.

The next year, a man nearly died at Arapahoe Basin after his backpack got caught on the ski lift, which wrapped around his neck and dragged him unconscious back down the hill. Before ski patrol arrived, another skier was able to climb the lift and cut him free.

Other Recent Ski Accidents

  • An 83-year-old man died on Feb. 12 after he apparently skied off the deck of the halfpipe at Aspen Snowmass. The halfpipe walls are 22 feet tall and typically used for professional competitions.
  • On Dec. 30, 2019, a 57-year-old man died after a ski crash at Eldora Mountain. He was treated at the scene and later died of his injuries at Boulder hospital.
  • On Feb. 16, Joanne Heins was skiing at Eldora when she was hit by a snowboarder. The collision resulted in a dislocated right elbow, a fractured left arm, a facial abrasion, and bruising on her torso.
  • In 2010, the Johnson family had gone up to a local ski mountain outside Casper, Wyoming. Kelli and their 5-year-old daughter, Elise, had just hopped on the lift together. A 23-year-old snowboarder hit Kelli and Elise at over 50 mph. Both Elise and the snowboarder lost their lives that day.

In almost all cases, ski resorts want to avoid liability when skier accidents occur, even those resulting in injuries and death. However, there must be more safety measures taken to ensure that all skiers on the slopes and using ski lifts remain safe—this is by far the number one priority.

If you or a loved one was injured in a ski accident or died as a result of these injuries, we are here for you. Our ski accident attorneys have extensive knowledge in ski law and may be able to help. We have recovered hundreds of thousands to over one million dollars for victims of skiing and snowboarding accidents.

We will act as your legal advocates, providing you with the personalized and strategic legal representation needed to ensure you receive full and fair compensation. Let us take the worry off of your shoulders so that you can focus on healing.

Contact Klein Frank at (303) 448-8884 to schedule your free, personalized case reviewwith one of our attorneys.

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