Skier pays off victim…Aspen case closed |

Skier pays off victim…Aspen case closed

Joel Stonington
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN ” The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office has decided not to pursue criminal charges against a skier who allegedly assaulted a snowboarder after a collision on Aspen Mountain.

The case was closed because the “victim failed to prosecute,” according to sheriff’s office records.

The apparent settlement comes after a Jan. 2 altercation, following the collision between Michael John Wilson, 19, and Stephen Benson, 58. Benson allegedly punched and kicked Wilson, who sustained minor injuries in the scuffle.

The case reportedly was closed after investigating deputy George Kremer got a call from Benson’s lawyer, John Case of Aspen, who said a “monetary settlement” had been reached and that “Michael [Wilson] was satisfied with the settlement,” the report says.

Wilson has returned to Australia and could not be reached. However, his uncle, Garth Wilson ” who is a local limousine operator and was the reporting party in the case ” said he was stunned to hear that the criminal case had been closed.

“As far as I knew, they were still going to still charge him with third-degree assault,” he said Tuesday. “I don’t know if it can be reopened or what.”

The uncle said the payments given to Michael were “just a little medical stuff,” and his understanding was that Benson would still be charged with the assault.

Sheriff’s detective Ron Ryan said cases are routinely closed if a victim decides not to prosecute.

“There are plenty of cases where victims are needing attention,” said Ryan.

Deputy Kremer could not be reached for comment. However, according to Kremer’s report, he called Garth and Michael and got no response, and decided to close the case.

The incident reportedly followed a collision between the two men on the newly-named Lazy Boy ski run, formerly known as Copper Connector, and about 300 yards uphill from the lower terminus of the Gentlemen’s Ridge ski lift.

According to a statement from Michael Wilson, he was hit from above and behind by the skier, Stephen Benson, 58, of New York City.

In the police report, Kremer wrote that a witness, Lynn Phillips of Aspen, saw the ensuing attack from the Gentleman’s Ridge chair.

Phillips reportedly told Kremer that she saw Benson and Wilson collide after Wilson stood up and started snowboarding without looking uphill.

“He ran directly into the skier ” they both went down,” reads Phillips’ statement to the police. “There was some shouting between them, the skier was very upset and he came at the snowboarder ” punched him in the face and kicked him.”

Benson told Kremer that he had hit Wilson, though he did not say he kicked Wilson, according to the police report.

“I was the victim,” said Benson, reached at home in New York on Tuesday. “[Wilson] skied into me and knocked me for a loop. That’s what really happened.”

When asked about the monetary settlement in the case, Benson hung up the telephone.

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