Local ski instructor dies in accident at Aspen Highlands

David Turner, 70, was a lifelong outdoor enthusiast who moved to the Roaring Fork Valley with his family after retiring.
Courtesy of Stephanie Turner

Basalt local Dave Turner died Jan. 5, two days after striking a tree in a skiing accident at Aspen Highlands.

At 12:56 p.m. on Jan. 3, ski patrol received a call that Turner, 70, went off the catwalk into a tree at the bottom of Why Not, where the run intersects the Oly catwalk, according to an email Wednesday from Aspen Skiing Co. He was not wearing a helmet.

According to the statement: Ski patrol was on the scene in four minutes and found Turner unresponsive. Advanced life saving was initiated, and vitals were re-established before he was transported to an ambulance at the bottom of the hill.

The Pitkin County Coroner’s Office said Wednesday in an email that the cause of death was blunt force trauma. He died in Grand Junction.

The statement from Skico officials to the team at Buttermilk called Turner a “good friend and fellow Buttermilk Ski Pro.”

Turner, who joined the Buttermilk team last year, was a PSIA Alpine Level 2 certified ski instructor. He had recently retired as a practicing attorney to pursue his lifelong passion for technical rock climbing, mountaineering, hiking, mountain biking, backcountry skiing, alpine skiing, and helping people learn to ski, according to the statement.

“This is a tragic loss, and we are deeply saddened. Our thoughts are with David’s family and friends,” Skico officials said.

An online memorial page was created for him on Ever Loved, and friends and family members have shared pictures and fond memories of Turner on it. He is described as an advocate for climbing on the Front Range, and the site asks visitors to consider donating to Flatirons Climbing Council, where he was a member for years. The page also asks people to consider donating to The Access Fund or Doctors Without Borders USA in lieu of flowers.

“This last week, the image I’ve been holding onto tightly is Dave on the dance floor. He was amazing, and it was where I witnessed the energy and passion he brought to what and who he loved,” one memory from Judith Kalb states.

Another memory from Ted Lanzano reads: “Dave always had a way of making everyone enjoy themselves and feel welcome. He was so thoughtful, kind, and wise.  We really need more people like Dave!”

Turner is survived by his wife of 40 years, Nancy, and adult daughters Stephanie and May.

“The Turner Family would like to thank the Highlands Ski Area Ski Patrol as well as the other medical staff in Aspen and Grand Junction who cared for Dave,” the family sent in an email Wednesday.