Second snowboarder comes forward, takes blame for crash
A second snowboarder stepped forward Tuesday to take blame for a collision last week on Aspen Mountain, saying he, not his friend, was the one who crashed into a tourist.
Connor Marx, 26, of Aspen, called The Aspen Times on Tuesday morning and confessed to being the person who hit a 56-year-old skier from Illinois on Thursday afternoon.
“I want to set it straight and make sure people know (Michael McKiernan) didn’t do that,” Marx said in a phone call. “I want to come forward so he doesn’t take the fall.”
Aspen Police Department officials said Tuesday afternoon they have talked with Marx about the incident, but had no further updates.
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McKiernan denied hitting the skier, saying he went around the man who was already on the ground when he reached him, according to police reports. According to police, McKiernan got into altercations with two Aspen Skiing Co. employees who confronted him at the base area, and McKiernan was charged with disorderly conduct.
“McKiernan was adamant that he did not hit the male … but rather the male was already on the ground when McKiernan passed him,” according to the police report.
McKiernan, 24, was identified by three witnesses on the ski hill and at the base of the gondola as the person who hit the skier, according to police reports.
Marx said he was snowboarding Thursday afternoon with McKiernan and was ahead of him coming down Little Nell. He said he went over a roller, was looking at his feet and found himself on top of Joe Powers, the skier from Naperville, Illinois.
Powers said Monday he struck his head and back “pretty hard” on the icy run and could not ski the next day, which was the last day of his vacation. He said he did not need medical care.
Marx said he slid down the hill and was dazed after hitting Powers, then looked up the run and saw Powers getting up before going to check himself out. He said he didn’t know about the confrontation involving McKiernan until later.
“My friend has had my back to this point and obviously I don’t want him to deal with this heat,” Marx said.
He said he didn’t stop and check on Powers after the collision because he looked to be unhurt. He said he regrets that decision and was going to apologize to Powers.
“I would like to take responsibility for this,” he said. “Make it clear that (McKiernan) was wrongfully accused.”
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Aspen Skiing Co. and most of the Colorado ski industry were cruising along in a second strong season, until the coronavirus crisis forced their closure on March 14. Skier visits would typically be announced this week, but the ski industry is focused on forging ahead rather than looking back.