Wolf Creek Fined in Patroller's Death

Colorado ski area also faces charges

Sep 19, 2014
Outside Magazine
wolf creek winter

OSHA says Wolf Creek ski area did not adequately mitigate the danger of an avalanche that killed an employee in March.    Zach Dischner/Flickr

Colorado’s Wolf Creek Ski Area has been fined $14,000 in the death of an on-duty ski patroller by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), according to a report by the Denver Post.

The patroller, Colin Sutton, was struck by an avalanche in March while researching snow safety conditions outside the resort’s boundaries. He was immediately dug out by fellow patrollers but succumbed to his injuries. The OSHA notification claims the patrollers did not have adequate communication with patrol headquarters while outside the area boundary. 

It’s not the first time OSHA has cited the ski area: After ski patrol director Scott Kay was killed in an in-bounds avalanche in 2010, the administration levied a $17,000 fine, saying the ski area failed to adequately train its patrollers for avalanche work.

According to the Post, the forest service, which owns the land where the ski area operates, has filed five charges against Wolf Creek’s owner, Davey Pitcher, in relation to Sutton’s death. The forest service alleges that Wolf Creek patrollers were not permitted to work out of bounds and that they illegally used explosives for avalanche control on unrelated days. Pitcher has pleaded not guilty to the charges; his trial is set to begin in mid-December.

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