The O. Zone

Man charged with slope assault on Beaver Creek

By David O. Williams
Real AspenDecember 22, 2010
‘Tis the season to beat the crap out of someone (allegedly) on the ski slopes.

Friday’s incident at Beaver Creek ski area – in which a Georgia man was charged with misdemeanor child abuse for punching a teenage girl who bumped into his 4-year-old son – is reminiscent of another slope rage case at Beaver Creek that resulted in a federal lawsuit.

In that 2007 case, a 7-year-old boy accidentally skied over the backs of the skis of a 60-year-old Pennsylvania man, causing him to fall. The man reacted angrily, claimed serious injury and filed a $75,000 federal lawsuit against the boy and his family. The case sparked national outrage and prompted calls for changes to the Colorado Skier Safety Act.

The incident also became the poster child for lawsuit abuse, generating an ad campaign by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In last weekend’s incident, a sheriff’s investigator said the 41-year-old Georgia man jumped on the 14-year-old girl from Mexico and punched her in the face, but later apologized for his inappropriate behavior once he realized his son was not hurt. The girl told police she swerved to avoid a fallen skier and accidentally bumped into the child.

The slopes are crowded with holiday skiers this time of year, and stressed-out vacationers are dropping big money to have fun in the mountains. When things go wrong, as inevitably they do, the results can be explosive.

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert told the Vail Daily that a conviction of the Georgia man could land him up to two years in the county jail.

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