Backcountry boarder hit by snowmobile
Vail, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” 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 in the backcountry on a gentle grade on a groomed, public route a few miles south of the upper terminal of Aspen Mountain’s Silver Queen Gondola when a snowmobile rounded a blind curve and collided with him, said his father, Royal Laybourn.
Friends took Doran Laybourn by snowmobile to the gondola terminal where he was treated by ski patrol and taken to Aspen Valley Hospital. He was in intensive care and faced multiple surgeries Sunday night, his dad said, and he was in stable condition Monday.
Royal Laybourn said his son and another snowboarder, the only witness to the collision, were on their side of a public route when the snowmobile came around the curve.
Royal Laybourn said he was angered him was the reaction by the snowmobile driver and his friends.
“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, patrol supervisor Anne Stephenson said.
“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 after the collision, but that couldn’t be confirmed.
Royal Laybourn 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, his dad said.
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 friends 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.
Doran has been a sponsored pro rider since he was 14, and he is on the Skico’s Team Aspen/Snowmass, Royal Laybourn said.
Aspen Times reporter Allyn Harvey contributed to this report.
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