Theft charge for friend of man killed at S’mass |

Theft charge for friend of man killed at S’mass

Allyn Harvey

Theft charges have been filed in connection with the skiing accident Sunday that took the life of an 18-year-old Oklahoma man.

Robert Crawford was the skiing partner of Todd Bratkovich, who died after losing control and colliding with a tree off the Lunkerville trail at Snowmass.

Crawford is scheduled to appear in Pitkin County court next month to answer charges that he was skiing at Snowmass Ski Area without paying. He was allegedly using a season pass that belongs to an employee at a local lodge, said Snowmass Village Police Chief Art Smythe.

Bratkovich was also apparently skiing with a pass that belonged to someone else.

“Rob Crawford was charged with theft, which is what happens when you go skiing with someone else’s pass,” Smythe said.

Crawford, contacted at the Bratkovich home in Edmond, Okla., declined to comment about the charge.

Crawford and Bratkovich were visiting Snowmass to celebrate Crawford’s recent ordination as a minister and Bratkovich’s 18th birthday on Jan. 11, according to reports in The Edmond Sun in Edmond, Okla.

Jim Bratkovich, Todd’s father, told the Sun that his son and Crawford became friends when Crawford served as a youth minister at Southern Hills Christian Church.

Todd was a junior deacon at Southern Hills and had volunteered on mission trips to Honduras and the Watts section of Los Angeles. Jim Bratkovich said his son wanted to make a career out of helping inner-city children.

The high school junior was a member of National Honor Society, and his name was included in the most recent edition of Who’s Who Among American High School Students, according to The Edmond Sun. Last year, Bratkovich was named Sophomore of the Year at his high school.

Smythe said his department’s investigation revealed Bratkovich and Crawford had been loaned the passes by employees of The Silvertree Hotel in Snowmass Village.

Smythe couldn’t say whether the two were staying at the lodge, or give any other details about how two friends from Oklahoma ended up with ski passes from two lodge workers in Snowmass.

Silvertree management did not return a message seeking comment.

Skico spokeswoman Rose Abello said the passes have been revoked.

Abello said yesterday that the company didn’t intend to file charges against Crawford. But it appears that decision came too late.

Smythe said the investigation began after his department received a call from someone on the Snowmass Ski Patrol, which was responding to the accident. The chief pointed out that once the crime’s been reported, the decision about whether or not to file charges is out of the hands of the Aspen Skiing Co., even though the company is the victim.

“Technically, it was a crime against the people of Colorado,” he said.

Crawford is the first person this season to be charged with theft in connection with misuse of a ski pass. Five people were charged during the 1999-2000 season.

The accident happened about 12:20 p.m. Sunday, when Bratkovich and Crawford began skiing down Lunkerville, an intermediate run near the Alpine Springs lift.

According to a sheriff’s office press release, Bratkovich stopped briefly about 200 feet above the accident site, then took a couple of turns, lost control and hit a tree on the left side of the run.

The ski patrol rushed the victim to the Snowmass Clinic. He was then taken to Aspen Valley Hospital, where, at 1:43 p.m., he was pronounced dead from blunt trauma to the torso.

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