A Snowboarder Left the Scene of a Deadly Ski Crash. His Punishment? A $500 Fine.
A 29-year-old Colorado man was sentenced to 40 hours of community service in connection with the death of 72-year-old Ron LeMaster
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A Colorado snowboarder has been found guilty of leaving the scene of a fatal collision with a skier on Eldora Mountain, the Daily Camera reported last week. The incident occurred on November 30, 2021.
Nicholas Keith Martinez, 29, was ordered to pay a $500 fine and serve 40 hours of community service for the crash that killed 72-year-old Ron LeMaster, a former University of Colorado Boulder Ski Team coach.
“The offense is a petty offense under the law, but this sentence reflects the aggravated circumstances around Mr. Martinez’s actions in leaving the scene of the crash,” said Christine Rinke, Boulder County Chief Deputy District Attorney, in a statement to the newspaper.
Martinez collided with LeMaster on Eldora’s intermediate “Windmill” run. It is unclear whether he was aware of LeMaster’s injuries when he left the crash scene.
When ski patrollers reached LeMaster, he was unconscious and not breathing, according to the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office. Following failed resuscitation efforts, he was pronounced dead at the scene. According to the Denver Gazette’s description of the autopsy report, LeMaster suffered blunt force trauma similar to that from a car crash. His spine, ribs, left collarbone, sternum, and bones in his face were broken.
Martinez walked away from the crash with a “significant head injury,” according to the district attorney’s office, and “was observed to be bleeding from his nose and mouth.” While it’s possible Martinez fled because he was disoriented from his concussion, the office noted that failure to remain at the scene of a crash is a “strict liability offense.”
Martinez’s decision violated a specific Colorado statute, which states, “No skier involved in a collision with another skier or person in which an injury results shall leave the vicinity of the collision before giving his or her name and current address to an employee of the ski area operator or a member of the ski patrol, except for the purpose of securing aid for a person injured in the collision.”
Prosecutors declined to seek more serious charges, such as manslaughter, because they could not determine whether Martinez had been snowboarding recklessly.
LeMaster, a noted ski photographer and educator, was the author of The Essential Guide to Skiing and Ultimate Skiing. During his three-decade career as an instructor and race coach, he worked with the U.S. Ski Team and ski schools in Aspen and Vail. He was the fifth person to die while skiing at Eldora in 2021.
“He was someone that people always look to and turn to to help provide information and educate instructors across the country,” Nicholas Herrin, the former CEO of the Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowboard Instructors, told 9News. “His knowledge and depth of alpine skiing is one that will be remembered for a very long time.”