Snowboarders accused of starting avalanche should pay $168,000, Colorado official says
"Dude, we just buried the road."
That was the comment made by snowboarder Tyler DeWitt after he and Evan Hannibal allegedly triggered an avalanche in Summit County, Colorado.
GoPro footage of the two backcountry snowboarders will be used as evidence against them in the event of reckless endangerment, KDVR reported.
According to the Vail Daily, prosecutors want them to pay Colorado $ 168,000 for the damage caused by the avalanche.
DeWitt, 38, and Hannibal (26) were snowboarding in the White River National Forest above the Eisenhower Tunnel on March 25, the daily reported. According to KDVR, they are accused of shifting a large blanket of snow and tumbling down the mountain and burying the road below.
The avalanche was "big enough to bury and destroy a car, damage a truck, destroy a timber frame house, or break a few trees," reported the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
"The avalanche damaged a distant avalanche control unit ... and covered over 400 feet of the pavement with debris up to 20 feet deep," the agency said.
The avalanche control unit called O’Bellx - a device that costs $ 120,000 - is used to set off small avalanches and reduce the risk of larger avalanches, according to the Daily.
"If the system is to prevent large avalanches, this was certainly not the case in this case," said Hannibal of the daily newspaper.
At that point, there were no vehicles on the service road, which is mainly used by state transport workers, and no one was injured, KDVR reported.
Fifth District Attorney Bruce Brown decided to incriminate the two snowboarders with a number of reckless hazards each over the potential disaster that the broadcaster said could have occurred.
"They recognized that there was a risk, but they went down the slide anyway," Brown said, according to KDVR. "With a freeway that has 100,000 cars driving on it every week, it could be a disaster."
The offense charge would normally only result in a fine of $ 750 and up to six months in the county jail, the broadcaster reported. But since the state had to pay so much money to clear the road and replace the avalanche equipment, Brown is demanding a refund of $ 168,000 from them.
"The couple were clearly concerned about the avalanche conditions but kept going," Brian Metzger, a special operations technician with the Summit County Sheriff's Office, who responded to the Vail Daily after the snowboarders reported the incident.
"Obviously we made a mistake," Hannibal told the newspaper. "But this isn't the only area in Colorado where people snowboard with a road nearby that could potentially be buried in the event of a slide, and I have never heard of anyone receive criminal penalties for such a mistake Has."
According to KDVR, the two snowboarders pleaded not guilty when they first appeared on September 28th. A judge is expected to set his trial date on October 27th.
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