Aspen man dies in slide in France

Catherine Lutz
Published: Jon Seigle, school board president, said the board chose for years to spend its ample reserves in order to maintain high educational standards. ÒI wouldnÕt change anything we did,Ó he says. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.

Longtime Aspen resident, former school board member and local business owner Jon Seigle died in an avalanche near La Grave, France, while skiing with a guide on Monday.Seigle was 57 years old. Another Aspenite, who was not identified, survived the slide uninjured.As of press time, little was known about the slide that killed Seigle. A 15-year member of the board of the Aspen School District, Seigle stepped down in November 2005 because of term limits. He was president of the board for one year, beginning in November 2003.During Seigle’s tenure, the board hired Superintendent Diana Sirko, built a new high school and most recently, oversaw the passage of a mill levy to build a new middle school and make extensive upgrades to the elementary school.He was also instrumental in creating the school district’s affordable housing program, and was very involved in the school’s financial advisory board, Sirko said.”He was very dedicated and conscientious, and genuinely cared about kids and the instructional program,” Sirko said Monday. “He was very committed to the quality of life here, and saw education as important to that quality of life. The thousands of hours he gave to the district is something to be commended and appreciated. You can confidently say he made a difference here.”A businessman, Seigle owned the Basalt Store and gas station, which he completely remodeled last year, putting in an Internet café and smoothie bar.He was also very athletic, well-known as an avid skier and biker.Seigle is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Stewart, and daughters Missy and Grace.La Grave is an off-piste-style ski area in the Alps, near Grenoble, with steep terrain and one lift, similar to Silverton in southern Colorado. Most people hire guides to ski there, though it is not required.A French website,, reported that an American was killed in an avalanche at 1 p.m. near the ski resort of Montgenèvre, which is about 19 kilometers from La Grave. The unnamed victim was with two other Americans, ski touring at an altitude of about 8,250 feet. It remained unclear at press time, however, whether the death reported was in fact Seigle.According to The Associated Press, off-piste incidents in the French Alps have killed 38 people this winter. Last week alone, 10 people died despite warnings of high avalanche danger.