Ski-safety fines may increase |

Ski-safety fines may increase

Nicole Formosa

SUMMIT COUNTY – Having spent 20 years with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, State Rep. Gary Lindstrom said he knows the worst that can happen when unprepared skiers and snowboarders duck ski-area boundary ropes.He noted one particularly hairy spot, known as the Beavers near Arapahoe Basin.”We pulled a lot of bodies out of there, a lot of dead skiers,” said Lindstrom, a Democrat who represents Eagle and Summit counties and also is campaigning to be the party’s candidate for governor this year .He’s hoping there will be less rescues and recoveries if skiers and snowboarders face the risk of a larger fines, Lindstrom said. Lindstrom is sponsoring House Bill 1250, which would raise the maximum fine for violating the Colorado Ski Safety Act of 1979 from $300 to $1,000. The pumped up penalty would apply passing under ropes, riding a lift or skiing trails while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or leaving a collision.The bill unanimously passed the Committee on Local Government Tuesday and will head to the House floor to be debated by all 65 state representatives later this month, Lindstrom said.Summit County Undersheriff Derek Woodman and Keystone director of mountain operations Chuck Tolton testified in favor of the bill in front of the committee. Nobody spoke in opposition of the proposed bill.”The committee was concerned that it wasn’t strict enough and felt as though we should put total recovery of all (rescue) costs in the bill,” Lindstrom said.That likely won’t happen because the Mountain Rescue Association – the parent group of local search and rescue teams – is concerned that if the price tag is too high, people won’t call for help, he said.Talk of the need for a fine increase began to brew following November’s successful rescue of John Ryan, an Erie snowboarder who spent two nights in Jones Gulch, adjacent to Keystone’s boundary, said Summit County Sheriff John Minor.Vail, Colorado

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