Forest Service investigates avalanche at Arapahoe Basin |

Forest Service investigates avalanche at Arapahoe Basin

Kim MarquisSummit County correspondent

SILVERTHORNE – The U.S. Forest Service launched an investigation Sunday of an inbounds avalanche that occurred Friday morning at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.The slide killed skier David Conway, 53, of Boulder.A three-person team consisting of a deputy forest supervisor from Wyoming, an investigator from a Lake Tahoe-area agency office and a forest liaison staff member from Carbondale is expected to submit a factual report to the regional forester in Glenwood Springs this week.Dillon District Ranger Rick Newton said Wednesday it was too early to say what the investigation might find or whether the agency will take any action. The team has questioned ski area patrollers and other employees and is taking snow conditions into account, he said.The purpose of the investigation is to provide the agency information to reduce the likelihood of accidents, he said. A-Basin operates under a special use permit administered by the Forest Service. It is standard procedure for the agency to investigate all serious accidents that involve permitees, Newton said. While the Forest Service sets policies for the ski area through the permit for procedures such as signs, safety and even advertising guidelines, Newton said the agency is not directly responsible for day-to-day operations at the ski area.That responsibility falls to ski area operators, he said.A final report is required from the investigation team in 45 working days.