Snowmobile and boarder collide
January 15, 2007
Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN An accident Sunday on Richmond Ridge shattered the leg and face of a pro snowboarder from Missouri Heights and nearly broke his father’s heart.Doran Laybourn, 26, was snowboarding on a gentle grade on a groomed, public route a few miles south of the upper terminal of the Silver Queen Gondola when a snowmobile rounded a blind curve and collided with him, according to his father, Royal Laybourn.Friends took Doran Laybourn by snowmobile to the gondola terminal where he was cared for by the ski patrol, transported to the bottom of the mountain and taken by ambulance to Aspen Valley Hospital. He was in intensive care and faced multiple surgeries Sunday night, according to his dad, and he was in stable condition Monday.Royal Laybourn said there is a lot of inaccurate information floating around about the accident, the biggest being that his son was on a snowmobile at the time. He said his son and a colleague were on their side of a public route when the snowmobile came around the curve. He was unsure of the exact location of the accident.Royal Laybourn said the only witness to the accident is a colleague who was riding about 15 feet behind Doran at the time.Royal Laybourn said he can accept that accidents happen. What angered him was the reaction by the snowmobile driver and his colleagues. “They didn’t render assistance. They just split,” he said.The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office collected information about the accident but likely will turn over the investigation to the U.S. Forest Service, as the law dictates for backcountry accidents, according to patrol supervisor Anne Stephenson.”We don’t know if anyone did anything wrong, yet. It’s early in the investigation,” she said. The snowmobile driver allegedly contacted the sheriff’s office later in the day of accident, but that couldn’t be confirmed.Royal Laybourn was emotional about the accident, as could be expected. He said he will ask Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis for a vigorous investigation and wants the snowmobile driver to face charges of leaving the scene of an accident.”If that happened downtown, that guy would be arrested,” he said.Royal Laybourn said his son’s face and head struck the head of the snowmobile driver. Doran wasn’t wearing a helmet. The snowmobile driver apparently was. Doran’s front teeth were knocked out and he received various other head and facial injuries, according to his dad. The snowmobile struck his leg, which “shattered,” Royal Laybourn said.The accident happened shortly before 2 p.m. on a powder day. Laybourn said his son’s colleagues told him it was an extremely busy day on Richmond Ridge, one of Aspen’s most popular backcountry playgrounds for powderhounds. Weekend days typically bring out Aspen Skiing Co. powder tours using snowcats, cross-country skiers, snowmobiles towing skiers and riders up the slopes, and snowmobile riders out touring. The jumble of users has been a concern for the U.S. Forest Service, as well as Pitkin County, which owns public roads in the area.Snowmobiles are restricted to public routes – Richmond Ridge, Little Annie and Midnight Mine roads – which are groomed but not plowed on the mountaintop.Royal Laybourn said Doran has been a sponsored pro rider since he was 14, and he is on the Skico’s Team Aspen/Snowmass, according to his father.Aspen Times reporter Allyn Harvey contributed to this report. Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.