Evan Hannibal, 26, and Tyler DeWitt, 38, are facing jail time and $168,000 in restitution for an avalanche they triggered on March 25th above the west portal of the Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnel that covered the road in avalanche debris about 400 feet wide and over 20 feet deep. They believe the incident warrants discussion but no crime was committed:
“This is bigger than me and Tyler. This is a backcountry community issue and the fact of these cases really changes the precedent for the backcountry and how people recreate on our public lands — and I think that is something that needs to be brought to light.” -Evan Hannibal
CBS Denver reports the pair are both experienced backcountry riders and thought the area where they triggered the slide would be lower risk because it was above Interstate 70 and had avalanche mitigation technology in place They also referenced the Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecast which showed conditions were moderate (level 2 out of 5).
“We had two cannons in the chute that we chose. I was solid that that thing was bomb proof.” -DeWitt.
The “cannons” were part of the O’Bellx system which is used by CDOT for avalanche mitigation along I-70. During the slide an O’Bellx exploder was ripped from its mounting stand and later found in the debris path (part of the $168,000 in damage and cleanup costs). They are also facing a reckless endangerment charge.
“The crime charged is that they failed to appreciate that by their actions they risked serious bodily injury to other people. The charge of reckless endangerment can apply to all types of activities and in all places, it is dependent upon the circumstances of placing other people at risk of serious bodily entry.” -Summit County District Attorney Bruce Brown.
Both will be back in court at the end of October to argue their cases. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE.