Authorities investigate ski collision at Aspen Highlands

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – A 77-year-old Aspen man is recovering at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction from a ski accident last month, while local authorities are trying to find the person who collided with him.

The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public to help it locate the person, believed to be a man, who struck Laurence Niles on Feb. 17 at Aspen Highlands. The accident is believed to have occurred around 10:55 a.m. in the Meadows area, near Tower 10 of the Loge Peak chairlift.

Niles was listed in good condition Tuesday evening at St. Mary’s, according to a hospital spokeswoman. She could not provide further details.

An incident report from the Sheriff’s Office shows that investigator Brad Gibson spoke with Niles’ wife Tuesday, and she said that he had been transferred from the hospital’s intensive-care unit to the neurological unit. Niles was initially under the care of Aspen Valley Hospital.

Gibson told The Aspen Times that Niles suffered multiple broken ribs and a concussion.

The Sheriff’s Office decided to do a public-outreach campaign to find the other skier after talking to one witness and gathering accident reports from Aspen Skiing Co., according to sheriff’s records related to the incident.

Gibson said it is too early to say what, if any, charges would be levied against the person who struck Niles.

“We would have to hear from the other person to get the full story,” Gibson said. “We would love to at least talk to the other person.”

The Colorado Ski Safety Act states, “No skier involved in a collision with another skier or person in which an injury results shall leave the vicinity of the collision before giving his or her name and current address to an employee of the ski area operator or the ski patrol, except for the purpose of securing aid for a person injured in the collision …”

In the accident involving Niles, the skier was on the scene about 10 seconds before leaving. That was based on the statement from a witness who was riding the Loge Peak chair and saw the accident, according to sheriff’s records. The witness said both skiers were headed downhill when the suspect “lost control and slid in front of (Niles),” according the sheriff’s report, which was based in part on Skico’s investigation.

The suspect is described as a stocky male who was wearing a blue jacket, a blue hat and possibly black pants at the time of the accident. Niles did not remember what happened and has been unable to provide authorities with any information about the accident, the Sheriff’s Office said.

His wife was skiing with him at the time, but she did not see the accident occur, Gibson said.

Anyone with information about the accident can call the Sheriff’s Office at 970-920-5300.