Lack of jurors prompts mistrial in Colorado case against snowboarders who triggered avalanche above I-70
Too few Summit County residents responded to jury summonses in a case against two snowboarders who captured video of an avalanche above the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels.
Summit County Judge Ed Casias sent out 40 summonses to local residents for Thursday’s docket. Only a fraction showed up — not enough to help decide one of the more interesting high-country cases in years.
After dismissing some potential jurors for cause — like a vaccine shot and a big test for a college student — there were not enough jurors to try two backcountry snowboarders facing criminal charges involving an avalanche. So Casias was forced to declare a mistrial.
“I am disappointed in the folks who did not show,” Casias said on Thursday after reviewing two sets of jurors. “There are very few civic responsibilities we ask of you: jury service and voting. Some of the people who were summonsed chose not to respond and I will address them.”
Evan Hannibal and Tyler DeWitt are facing misdemeanor criminal charges of reckless endangerment after the reported an avalanche on March 25, 2020, that buried a service road above Interstate 70. The two experienced backcountry snowboarders were descending a line above the west portal of the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels when an avalanche ripped below them and buried a road above Interstate 70 in more than 20 feet of snow.
The two handed over video of the avalanche to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and that video prompted prosecutors in Summit County to file criminal charges as well as seek $168,000 in restitution for an avalanche mitigation device destroyed in the slide.
Read more from Jason Blevins, Colorado Sun
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