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Snowmass collision leads to lawsuit

Joel Stonington
Aspen Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

SNOWMASS, Colorado ” A California man is suing the Aspen Skiing Co. nearly two years after he was allegedly run over by a Skico snowmobiler at Snowmass Ski Area.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court of Denver by Chris Robinette, 24, seeks more than $100,000 in damages from the Skico. It also seeks a jury trial.

The accident happened around 2:15 p.m., near the top of the Alpine Springs lift, on Feb. 24, 2006.

Robinette was making his last run of the day when he entered a patch of rollers and a snowmobile came over the top of a rise, Robinette said at the time.

The collision caused a severe closed fracture to Robinette’s lower leg bones, the tibia and fibula.

The driver, Eric Hill, allegedly had to get the machine and roll it off Robinette. Hill is named in the lawsuit, but not as a defendant.

The Skico did not return calls for comment, and it is unknown if Hill is still an employee.

The lawsuit does not provide details of the accident beyond saying Robinette was “lawfully and properly a snowboarder at the location of tower 16 at the Alpine Springs lift,” and Hill “was operating a snowmobile in a negligent and careless manner, and in violation of existing statutes, causing the snowmobile Mr. Hill was operating to collide with the plaintiff Chris Robinette with great force.”

An Aspen Times article from the time shed light on some of the details.

“[The snowmobile] was going up a blind hill,” Robinette was quoted as saying. “As far as I’m concerned the dude was hot-dogging it, just trying to be cool or have some fun, and ended up f—ing me up in the process.”

The Times reported that John Timmerman, a Tampa Bay, Fla., resident witnessed the accident.

“I saw the snowmobile going up, and the next thing I know the snowmobile was turned on its side and the snowboarder [was] laying down screaming,” he said.

Timmerman said he heard the driver accelerate to get over a lip in the ski run “and the next thing I heard was unusual noises and somebody screaming.”

He saw Robinette’s right leg “awkwardly laying to the right, half under the snowmobile. His leg was all mangled up.”

Robinette’s attorney, Scott Larson of Denver, said Robinette had been working as a cook during that winter in 2006 in the Roaring Fork Valley, but was unable to continue his job after the accident.

“Don’t you watch Top Chef?” asked Larson. “Those guys are running around like crazy. You can’t run around with a broken leg.”

Larson said that Robinette has had surgeries on the leg that was broken and may have to undergo more surgeries. Larson said he did not know if there had been any negotiations with the Skico as he had recently taken over the case.

“Because we’re coming up on the statute of limitations I decided it should be filed,” Larson said. “We’ve requested a jury. The jury will make a determination on the appropriate reward.”

jstonington@aspentimes.com


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