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Verdict in LeMaster Killing

Andy Mink

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Not in the realm of speculation is the perpetrator’s statement of seeing Lemaster, “weaving back and forth”.
So he saw him doing it first, and still hit him.
This is what bothers me. He stated he saw LeMaster "weaving back and forth". Then he hollered "Left, left, left". And then he ran into him. If he would have checked his speed as soon as he saw the "weaving" instead of watching it then hollering, things may have ended differently. The boarder also stated he couldn't avoid the hit. To me, that's not staying in control.
 

jmeb

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When you say “not an allowable use…” your mountain prohibits them?

We have a list of information for race coaches / teams that use our public facilities when they don't have lane time. It includes certain types of drills or other actions that aren't appropriate for busy runs at the start of the year. There is discretion left to patrollers who are the most knowledgeable folks as to what behavior is likely to lead to accidents on the hill we then have to deal with.

So, we don't have a sign that says "no lane change drills". But I have told coaches to stop doing lane change drills on busy public runs with the backing of my area.
 

François Pugh

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How is that unsafe and bad practice?
One should cross a run just not bothering to see what’s coming down from above?

- How do we know LeMaster was doing the lane change drill?

If he was doing that drill, it’s not random, and generally takes place in a moving rectangle, where you are on one side doing turns, then cross to the other side to do turns.
It’s hard for me to see LeMaster skiing in an unpredictable and chaotic manner doing a drill.
Looking behind you when you are moving down the hill is unsafe because you cannot see where you are going when you are looking back up the hill as you ski down the hill.
The last time I broke a rib, I was skiing down at a mile a minute to gain speed to make it up a connecting run to another black run. As I began my clean carved turn I looked up the run, as those skiers uphill from me on that run would be the skiers ahead of me. I hit an unexpected and unseen kicker that someone had built at the junction of the runs. In the ensuing fall, my ski poll got my rib. Visibility was good enough to see nobody was in front of me for a long enough distance, before I turned my head to look, but not to see the far away kicker in the flatter light. Look where you are going is safer than looking behind you, especially when skiing at speed. (P.S. I've pretty much given up uphill skiing.)
 

James

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The boarder also stated he couldn't avoid the hit. To me, that's not staying in control.
Well it was too late. I can believe he was “in control” at his speed, but the speed closed the gap too fast to do anything. Because he didn’t act early enough.

Someone is driving down the road at 40mph, they see a kid on a bicycle coming in on a cross street towards the road the car is on. Although there’s no stop sign, the prudent thing to do is slow down, just in case the kid heads into the cars path, they can stop.

I suspect the snowboarder kept thinking he could get by him with his speed. This is common thinking unfortunately.
 

tball

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I'm confused on several levels about this comment:

Confusion #1: The snowboarder stated that LeMaster was "swerving all over" -- perhaps in a manner similar to the 'Lane Change Drill'. Are you saying that LeMaster was skiing irresponsibly by not looking uphill before "crossing the run"?

Confusion #2: You are encouraging the LeMaster family to pursue civil action. Do you think the snowboarder was responsible for the accident? Does this conflict with Confusion #1?

Confusion #3: The DA brings (or decides not to bring) criminal charges which may result in fines or imprisonment. The DA does not pursue civil cases that could result in a judgement. Criminal fines are not subject to bankruptcy. Civil judgements can be affected by bankruptcy.

What really confuses me is the original post by @Henry (and supported by you) where he states that "crossing the run" requires the skier to look uphill first. That is neither safe, good practice, nor a requirement of the Skier Safety Code.

And another thing: The "lane change drill" should be renamed. No need to reinforce the absurd notion that there are "lanes" in skiing.
Sorry, I wasn't clear in my post.

On #1, I'm a) doubtful that LeMaster was doing the lane change drill as described here as it would be inherently dangerous early season at Eldora, and b) if he were doing it he would have looked uphill before crossing the run. I don't know him, but I think he's too experienced not to take some basic precautions (not required, but prudent).

#2: Yes, I think the snowboarder is responsible, and the evidence is he admitted to yelling "left, left, left" before he crashed into LeMaster.

#3: It's a bummer if he could bankrupt a civil judgment. All the more reason charges should have been brought and the case decided by a jury so restitution can be provided to the family.

Finally, nothing requires a skier to look uphill, but I think it's dangerous to not protect yourself by not doing so. My head is always on a swivel on groomers, and I always look uphill when crossing a run.
 

Scotty I.

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I swore off Eldora three years ago. That place is so crowded, it's a wonder to me that anyone gets out alive. Between CU students (I'm a grad) and all the local high schools, you have a lot of stoned kids who love to go fast. It's the most frightening place that I have ever skied.
 

tball

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I swore off Eldora three years ago. That place is so crowded, it's a wonder to me that anyone gets out alive. Between CU students (I'm a grad) and all the local high schools, you have a lot of stoned kids who love to go fast. It's the most frightening place that I have ever skied.
I'm also a CU alum... at least Eldora is safer now than when they had night skiing and cheap pitchers. :roflmao:
 

Shawn

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I swore off Eldora three years ago. That place is so crowded, it's a wonder to me that anyone gets out alive. Between CU students (I'm a grad) and all the local high schools, you have a lot of stoned kids who love to go fast. It's the most frightening place that I have ever skied.
Sadly a lot of skiing in smaller, crowded ski areas in PA/NJ/NY is like that.

It makes me think about slope layout and design: reducing merge points to keep skiers more separate and spread out a bit more— especially at heavy merge points that funnel into the base. Or even lifts. Blue Mountain (PA) added a second 6-seater from the base (and third high-speed base lift overall), which pretty much eliminated lift lines on most days, but also may have made the slopes more crowded. :huh:
 

SBrown

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Again, we are so far into the realm of speculation here --

Thank you. This is undoubtedly a terrible tragedy, but AFAIK, none of us was on the hill or even in the courtroom, and it's mind boggling how many are 100% sure of what should have happened here.
 

jmeb

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Thank you. This is undoubtedly a terrible tragedy, but AFAIK, none of us was on the hill or even in the courtroom, and it's mind boggling how many are 100% sure of what should have happened here.
It's easier to judge when you haven't worked on plenty of collision scenes with no clear at fault individuals. Folks want clarity in a tragic situation.

Personally -- i frequently yell spatial awareness cues to others when skiing, driving, running, and biking. None of them is some admission of guilt.
 

tball

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Personally -- i frequently yell spatial awareness cues to others when skiing, driving, running, and biking. None of them is some admission of guilt.
Cues are not an admission of guilt but could be used against you in court if you hit someone. Skiing is very different than driving, running, and biking, where staying right except to pass is the expected behavior.

It makes me wonder if anyone should ever say "left, left, left" skiing. I think probably not, except maybe on a cat track.
 

wolcoma

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The Snowboarder hit Ron LeMaster from behind and then fled the scene. At the very least he should have been charged with unintentional manslaughter and given 18 months in prison which I think is the minimum in many states for a "hit and run" accident. Of course they were on the slopes but very unfair to the LeMaster family.
 

slowrider

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Kind of makes your blood boil. The only repercussions for the snowboarder is that he will live with knowing he killed someone, weather at fault or not. Everyday.
 

Scotty I.

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This is what bothers me. He stated he saw LeMaster "weaving back and forth". Then he hollered "Left, left, left". And then he ran into him. If he would have checked his speed as soon as he saw the "weaving" instead of watching it then hollering, things may have ended differently. The boarder also stated he couldn't avoid the hit. To me, that's not staying in control.
Weaving back and forth? That's called skiing. If the kid had time to holler "Left, left, left" he had time to stop before killing the instructor. Has anyone considered the speed that it takes to kill someone?
 

jmeb

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Has anyone considered the speed that it takes to kill someone?

Yes -- I've worked scenes with injuries consistent with Lemasters that did not result in a fatality. It takes a lot of force to break a healthy young adult's iliac crest or scapula.

I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of skiers here reach those speeds on a regular basis when skiing. Those speeds are lower and lower as we age.

It's a dark secret we skiers don't like to acknowledge on a daily basis that we are hurtling ourselves down slopes at speeds that can fatally injure us with a poorly timed accident.
 

François Pugh

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Subjectively, I've formed the oppinion that 30 mph (the approximate speed at which I thought I might survive when sliding down a back concession after a high speed unscheduled dismount from my old 750 Interceptor) is fast enough to be deadly.
I don't necessarily think he had time to stop, even if he did have time to yell, "left, left, left". For example if he were going 65 mph, and it took 2 seconds to yell, "left left left" he would have 180 feet to do something else. To me two seconds is plenty of time to switch direction and ski behind him, but most people are slow to react, and don't have the skill to make a hard sudden turn. They are used to skiing or boarding at high speed with low edge angles.

The problem is that he should have slowed down to a speed that matched his ability to avoid the skier in front of him once he realized there was someone in front of him that would be able to turn into his way.

We were not there, but there are certain facts of the case that we can all agree on. LeMaster was the skier ahead. The boarder saw him. The boarder did not slow down. The boarder was not able to avoid the skier ahead at the speed he was going.

Perfect control is not required; the level of control required is to be able to avoid skiers and objects ahead.

The above facts of the case make him guilty.

Now for the speculation.

Why was he not skiing in control? I strongly suspect an error in judgment; IMHO he did not realize the speed he was travelling exceeded his ability to avoid skiers in front of him, or he over-estimated his ability to slow down in time to a speed where he could avoid the skier ahead of him. On the other hand he may not have known he had the primary responsibility to avoid those ahead of him, and expected the skier ahead not to turn into his path, being more familiar with road rules than the skiing alpine responsibility code.

What can we do? Educate people on the code, and extinguish this notion that there are lanes on the ski slopes (unless they are roped off for a race). Educate people that people ahead can and will turn any which way - so be able to avoid them no matter what they may do. Educate people that it takes 4 times as much effort or force to reduce speed or to turn when you are going twice as fast; it's not linear.

As to putting someone in jail for unintentional manslaughter, criminal negligence, that depends. He may have well learned his lesson, or he could be a psychopath.
 

fatbob

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I'm not sure this thread is really going anywhere. Many people insisting that the outcome "proved" the guilt and missing facts when clearly the DA didn't feel there was an appropriate criminal case.

I think its possibly good news for justice that a jury of skiers didn't get to convict the kid without evidence. It might feel wrong because of who LeMaster was but bad things happen to good people all the time not because of anything they have done or any deliberate intent or omission by others.
 

François Pugh

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I'm not sure this thread is really going anywhere. Many people insisting that the outcome "proved" the guilt and missing facts when clearly the DA didn't feel there was an appropriate criminal case.

I think its possibly good news for justice that a jury of skiers didn't get to convict the kid without evidence. It might feel wrong because of who LeMaster was but bad things happen to good people all the time not because of anything they have done or any deliberate intent or omission by others.
I don't care who was hit.
I am not basing guilt on lack of evidence or severity of result.
Guilt is based on clear evidence given, much of which was testimony by the border: he saw skier ahead. He did not slow down to the point that he could control his path well enough to avoid a collision with said skier ahead, and instead, he tried to get the skier ahead to avoid the collision.

If a skier skiing along the run ahead of you makes a sudden hard left as you are passing him and you hit him, that's on you. It's that simple. Learn the code.
 

COSkier87

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So sad to read, it's pretty bad that Martinez chose to block LeMaster's friend from taking a photograph. And it's even worse that Martinez left him dead on the slope, only to be caught in the parking lot.

How that doesn't involve any jail time is beyond me.

As for collisions and near misses on the slopes, there are so many variables that come into play for each interaction. And even though this is my first season skiing, I've found a lot of value in having my head on a swivel as I've seen plenty to justify taking the extra second of consideration for space and looking up the slope (even if I have the right of way and am railing down a groomer).

In this case, based on the injuries sustained by LeMaster, I think Martinez was going too fast, wasn't in control, attempted to thread the needle and failed.
 

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