In the national spotlight |

In the national spotlight

David O. Williams

Ski instructor Julie Cunningham disappears from Vail on March 15, 1975. Just before his execution on Jan. 24, 1989 in Florida’s electric chair, mass murderer Ted Bundy confesses to a Vail police officer that he lured Cunningham to his car with the ploy of needing help as he fumbled with his ski boots while struggling on crutches. Bundy says he buried her body near Rifle but it has never been found.Four people die and eight are injured when two gondola cars derail because of a frayed cable and fall to the ground on Vail Mountain on Friday, March 26, 1976. The threat of lawsuits forces Vail founder Pete Seibert to sell to a Texas oilman who ultimately forces Seibert out as president.Spanish Prince Alfonso de Bourbon is nearly beheaded Jan. 30, 1989 after skiing into a cable used to suspend finish-line banners at the bottom of the men’s downhill course during the World Alpine Ski Championships at Beaver Creek. He dies instantly, and the tragedy is covered globally by media in town for the ski races.Stabbed by deranged Steffi Graf fan Gunther Parche in Hamburg, Germany on April 30, 1993, tennis star Monica Seles decides to rehab at the famed Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail. Her visit brings hordes of slavering tabloid reporters from both coasts and beyond.While on a routine training flight in Arizona on April 2, 1997, U.S. Air Force Capt. Craig Button breaks out of formation, flies 495 miles without any communication and slams his A-10 Warthog into the side of Gold Dust Peak south of Edwards. The Air Force calls the crash a suicide and Button’s mother accuses them of a cover-up. The plane’s four, 500-pound bombs have never been found.On the April, 20, 1997, the final day of the ski season on Vail Mountain, Vail Resorts employee Nathan Hall skis down Riva Ridge at a high rate of speed, loses control and slams into Allen Cobb of Denver. Cobb is killed by the edge of Hall’s ski, which sails through the air like a missile. An Eagle County jury on Nov. 16, 2000 finds Hall guilty of criminally negligent homicide in a case that went all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court and set a ski industry precedent. Hall is sentenced to 90 days in jail.Still thought to be the worst act of eco-terror in the history of the United States (perpetrated in the name of tuft-eared wildcat called a Canada lynx), seven separate arson fires rip through structures and chairlifts on Vail Mountain in the early morning hours of Oct. 19, 1998. The fires do $12 million in damage, including leveling Two Elk Lodge, but no suspects have ever been named and no arrests have been made.– compiled by David O. Williams

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