Trial date set for Vail, Silverthorne snowboarders in avalanche case |

Trial date set for Vail, Silverthorne snowboarders in avalanche case

Avalanche debris on W. Loop road on March 25, 2020.
Special to the Daily

Exactly one year from the date of the avalanche that landed them in court, local snowboarders Evan Hannibal and Tyler DeWitt will face trial for the incident.

The snowboarders will have a motions trial on Feb. 16, followed by a trial on March 25 and 26, 2021, for third-degree reckless endangerment.

Hannibal and DeWitt were in an area of National Forest above the Eisenhower Tunnel on March 25; DeWitt said when they reached the area they wanted to ride, he tried to release a small slab, but ended up seeing a much bigger reaction than the pair was expecting, burying a service road above the tunnel and causing an estimated $168,000 in property damage to avalanche mitigation equipment that had been placed in that area in 2019.

Brian Metzger, a special operations technician with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, did not see the avalanche happen himself, but noted in his report: “The two snowboarders were on the slope above the O’bellx system and triggered the avalanche which destroyed the system as it came down.”

Hannibal, a Vail resident, said if the reckless endangerment charges stick, DeWitt and he could also face $168,000 in restitution charges, which they would have to split.

Hannibal, who works for Vail Health, said preparing for the trial will add to an already busy winter for him in his job as a Wilderness EMT, as this is expected to be a heavy year of use in the backcountry.

Closures and limitations on indoor recreation and leisure opportunities, combined with effective messaging on Governor Polis’ “Safer at home in the great outdoors” campaign, has created an unprecedented explosion of growth across outdoor recreation spheres over the last five months.

At Copper Mountain, where Hannibal works as a Ski Patroller, the summer mountain operations saw a record-breaking number of guests. Copper Mountain spokesperson Taylor Prather told the Denver Post that the resort is also expecting a big winter season.

Hannibal said he likely won’t go back to the ski patrol job at Copper this year, focusing on both the trial and his medical school studies instead. He’s currently taking prerequisite courses to get into nursing school.

“My goal has always been to help people in the backcountry,” he said.

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