District attorney aims for quick decision on Aspen fatal skier collision
February 9, 2013
ASPEN – Ninth Judicial District Attorney Sherry Caloia said the review of a fatal ski collision on Aspen Mountain will go on the “fast burner” next week for a decision by her and her staff on whether a criminal charge is warranted.
The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office handed over results of its investigation to the District Attorney’s Office on Friday. Caloia said she and some of her top deputies will look at the facts to determine “if there is a claim of any wrongdoing.”
“I’ll meet with the Sheriff’s Office as soon as possible,” she said.
They will also review the Colorado Skier Safety Act for applicability in the case. One section of the act says: “Each skier has the duty to maintain control of his speed and course at all times when skiing and to maintain a proper lookout so as to be able to avoid other skiers and objects. However, the primary duty shall be on the person skiing downhill to avoid collision with any person or objects below him.”
Natalie Egleston, 48, of Ardmore, Pa., died from injuries she suffered Monday in a collision with Virginia Chen, 53, of New York City.
Sheriff’s deputies described the basic details found in their investigation: Chen was skiing down the Copper Bowl trail, then merged into Spar Gulch at Grand Junction. Egleston had skied down the expert trail of Jackpot moments before and stopped on Spar Gulch for reasons that aren’t clear.
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Chen collided with Egleston a short distance uphill from where Bingo Slot peels off to the skier’s right of Spar Gulch. Egleston was knocked to the ground by the force of the collision. She suffered a traumatic brain injury as well as cracked ribs, according to the Pitkin County Coroner’s Office. Aspen Mountain ski patrol was notified of the collision at 3:46 p.m. and found Egleston unconscious and unresponsive. Egleston was transported to the base of the mountain to an ambulance and then taken to Aspen Valley Hospital, where she later was pronounced dead, authorities said.
Chen suffered only minor injuries, according to Aspen Skiing Co. and the Sheriff’s Office. She stayed at the scene and rendered aid. Both women were wearing ski helmets.
Caloia acknowledged that it can be hard to reach a conclusion in cases like this.
“They’re difficult to determine. Sometimes accidents happen. It’s true,” she said. A decision on whether to file a charge could come as early as next week, according to Caloia.
A conviction of violating the Colorado Skier Safety Act is a Class 2 petty offense that is punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000.