Hospital: Aspen Highlands chairlift pusher can be released

Doctors at the state psychiatric hospital in Pueblo want to release the man who pushed a snowboarder off a chairlift at Aspen Highlands nearly four years ago, according to court records.

Thomas Proesel’s limited, supervised release to an apartment in the Pueblo area is scheduled to occur around the end of the month, though Aspen prosecutor Don Nottingham said Wednesday he will file a notice objecting to it.

“I do plan on filing a written objection … based on the seriousness and dangerousness of the offense,” he said.

Still, Nottingham said he must read through hundreds of pages of documentation about Proesel and the treatment he’s undergone since he was committed to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo on July 27, 2016, so he could change his mind. District Judge Chris Seldin ordered Proesel’s commitment after finding him not guilty of the assault on the snowboarder by reason of insanity.

Proesel, 35, threw the then-28-year-old snowboarder off the Loge Peak Lift at Highlands about 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 17, 2016, after the snowboarder made an innocuous comment to him. The fall occurred near the top of the lift and the snowboarder fell 20 to 25 feet, though he landed in a pile of fresh snow and was uninjured.

An attendant stopped the lift at the time, but Proesel was able to ski away and Pitkin County sheriff’s deputies later tracked him to his apartment at Hunter Creek, where he’d been living since 2012. Proesel was later diagnosed with schizophrenia and another psychiatric disorder.

Jill Marshall, the CEO at the psychiatric hospital in Pueblo, filed the latest notice about Proesel on Sept. 24. The notice gives the DA’s Office 35 days to file an objection before Proesel, who is originally from the Chicago area, would be released.

The release “include the defendant’s residence in the community, under the supervision of Forensic Services staff,” according to the one-page noticed filed in Pitkin County District Court. Nottingham said the treatment plan includes Proesel living in Pueblo in an apartment.

A hearing on Proesel’s release has not yet been scheduled. Seldin will make the final determination as to whether Proesel is released from the psychiatric hospital.

Proesel himself petitioned the court for release in April 2018, though the petition was later withdrawn, according to court records.


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