Hit and runs rise on hill, reports say | VailDaily.com

Hit and runs rise on hill, reports say

Steve Lynn
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyConnor Brannen rode in Beaver Creek last week before she broke a vertebrate. A skier crashed into her Tuesday, stopped briefly and skied away, she said.

BEAVER CREEK ” A skier left Connor Brannen writhing in pain after he crashed into her and left the scene, she said.

Brannen was snowboarding down Red Tail in Beaver Creek Monday afternoon when a skier hit her from behind and left her with a fractured vertebrate, she said.

“I just don’t really understand how you could go away when someone is screaming and crying on the ground,” said Brannen, an 18-year-old New Hampshire resident, from her room in the Vail Valley Medical Center.

Brannen is just one of several people who have been injured by someone who then left the scene.

More people have reported hit and runs this season, said Addy McCord, director of Beaver Creek Ski Patrol.

McCord estimates hit and runs take place twice a month and that ski patrol catches about half of those who ski or ride away, she said.

“We do our darndest, because that’s something we have no tolerance for,” McCord said.

If ski patrollers catch the culprit, they will yank his or her pass and hold on the person until a sheriff’s deputy arrives.

Hit and runs usually earn a charge of third-degree assault, said Mark Hurlbert, Eagle County district attorney.

Vail was not aware of any unusual pattern of hit and runs, but the resort acknowledges their existence, Vail spokeswoman Jen Brown wrote in an e-mail.

Ski patrol tries to find the skiers involved if they have enough information and Vail’s skier safety program emphasizes personal accountability, she said.

Skiers involved in a collision must stop and report the accident, according to the Colorado Skier Safety Act.

The skier who hit Brannen failed to do that, she said.

Kaye Ferry, a part-time ski instructor, said people often leave the scene of collisions. A snowboarder rode away after he hit her on Vail Mountain as she taught a lesson in January. The collision led to five broken ribs in Ferry’s back, she said.

Since then, people constantly call or e-mail her to share their hit-and-run experiences, she said.

From others’ accounts and her own experience, Ferry thinks skiers and snowboarders don’t understand that the law requires them to stop and report the accident, she said.

“The skiing world needs to understand that it’s the same as an accident on I-70,” Ferry said.

David Viele’s mother used to drop him off to ski on Vail mountain when he was five, but it’s too dangerous for that now, he said.

Novice skiers use enhanced equipment that allows them to go faster, making the slopes more dangerous for everyone, said Viele, whose been skiing in Vail since 1976.

Vail is now “the Wal-Mart of skiing” where an “X-games mentality” exists, he said.

No longer a small town, Vail lacks a sense of community where people care for others, he said.

Brannen cannot walk but was not paralyzed in the accident, she said. Her mother, Laura, was hoped her daughter would leave the hospital this week.

Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or slynn@vaildaily.com.

The Colorado Skier Safety Act says: “No skier involved in a collision with another skier or person in which an injury results shall leave the vicinity of the collision before giving his or her name and current address to an employee of the ski area operator or a member of the ski patrol, except for the purpose of securing aid for a person injured in the collision; in which event the person so leaving the scene of the collision shall give his or her name and current address as required by this subsection (10) after securing such aid.”

Support Local Journalism