Snowboarders could owe nearly $170K after causing Colorado avalanche
They’re on thin ice.
Two snowboarders accused of causing an avalanche in Colorado earlier this year could be on the hook for nearly $170,000, according to local reports.
Evan Hannibal, 26, and Tyler DeWitt, 38, are both charged with reckless endangerment for allegedly starting the March 25 snowslide that buried hundreds of feet of roadway above the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70.
Things began going downhill for the pair after they submitted GoPro footage to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, Vail Daily reported.
“Throughout the video there are several comments made about areas of concern,” Brian Metzger, a special operations technician with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a report.
“The pair were clearly worried about avalanche conditions but proceeded down the path anyway.”
In the footage, DeWitt can be heard saying, “If we see a cop car show up, you know we’re (expletive)” and Hannibal replies, “I think we’re (expletive) either way,” Fox affiliate KDVR-TV reported.
Authorities brought charges against the snowboarders after reviewing the footage, according to the reports.
Normally, the pair would face up to six months in the county jail and a $750 fine, but prosecutors in Summit County want them to reimburse the state $168,000 for the damage caused.
“They recognized that there was a risk but they went down that chute anyway,” said Fifth Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown.
The snowboarders were in the White River National Forest when DeWitt tried to release a small slab for the pair to ride — unwittingly sparking the avalanche, he told Vail Daily.
The snow slide buried a 400-foot stretch of road 20 feet deep in flakes and destroyed a $120,000 piece of avalanche control equipment called an O’Bellx unit.
“With an interstate that has a 100,000 cars going across it every week, it could’ve been a disaster,” Brown told KDVR-TV.
The snowboarders said they felt the proposed punishment was too steep.
“It’s an outrageous sum of money,” DeWitt told KDVR-TV.
Hannibal said he and his pal wouldn’t have been in the area had there been clear signs indicating the possible risk of an avalanche and that pricey equipment was nearby.
“Clearly, we made a mistake. But this is not the only area in Colorado where people have snowboarded with a road nearby that has the potential to be buried should a slide occur, and I’ve never heard of anyone receiving a criminal penalty for making a mistake like this,” he told Vail Daily.
The snowboarders pleaded not guilty at their first court appearance on Sept. 28. They’re due back in court on Oct. 27.
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