$10,000 reward offered for ID of skier from Jan. 7 collision at Vail
China Bowl accident resulted in serious injuries for 74 year old skier
Update: The accident occurred Jan. 7, not Jan. 6
Skier Betty Benjamin, 74, is currently in the hospital fighting to recover from a collision which broke every rib on her right side, where the ribs meet the spine, and collapsed her lung.
Her brother, Jim Benjamin, is offering $10,000 for the identification of the skier with whom she collided Jan. 7 in the China Bowl area of Vail Mountain.
Betty’s friend Gwen Hoover saw it happen. She said the skier, a male teenager of average height and build, hit her full speed after straightlining a run in the Poppy Fields area of China Bowl. Hoover said the skier was likely coming from Poppy Fields West; she and Benjamin where coming from Poppy Fields East, and the collision happened in the area where the two runs meet.
“He hit her with the front part of his body, straight on,” she said. “I started screaming.”
Hoover said the skier was at fault in not being able to avoid Betty, who was downslope from him. But regardless of who is at fault, anyone on the mountain, of any age, who leaves the scene of an injury accident without giving their full name and address to an employee of the ski area operator is breaking the law, says attorney Jim Chalat of Chalat Law in Denver.
“Running into somebody on the ski slope has consequences, and leaving the scene makes those consequences quite a bit aggravated,” Chalat said.
The only exception is in the case where one person involved in a collision needs to seek help for the other person, in which case the skiers involved in the collision must give their names and addresses to the the ski area operator after securing the aid.
Data can be subpoenaed
In this case, Hoover said, four good samaritans showed up to offer help, but one of those people told the skier involved in the crash to leave the scene. He apologized and left without giving his name and address. This happened around 2 p.m., Hoover said, and ski patrol showed up a few minutes later.
Chalat says he has seen other cases similar to this one.
“Leaving the scene is a petty offense but it’s often charged along with a reckless endangerment causing injury, which is a misdemeanor,” he said. “Frequently, the at fault party learns that he or she could be criminally responsible for leaving the scene of an accident … and they come forward.”
The other option is to examine Vail’s vast collection of data.
“The data that’s read off your lift pass as you board any lift now at Vail is a source of information which can be subpoenaed,” Chalat said. “You can look at that data and sort through it and determine who matches the description, and whose photograph might be identified.”
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Jim Benjamin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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