On January 17th, a one-day trial will begin over the death of Ron Lemaster, who was a famous ski instructor and author. He was killed by Nicholas Martinez, a twenty-nine-year-old from Wellington, who is facing a maximum of a $1000 fine. The incident occurred at Eldora Mountain Resort on November 30, 2021.
According to the Daily Camera, the Boulder County Deputy District Attorney’s Office gave the following reasons that Nicholas is facing a legal trial.
“Mr. Martinez failed to remain at the scene after the collision. One might argue that his leaving the scene was due to the significant head injury that he suffered. As you will recall, he was observed to be bleeding from his nose and mouth, disoriented, and determined to have a concussion. Failure to remain … is a strict liability offense, though.”
Back in May, the Denver Gazette reported that prosecutors couldn’t prove that snowboarder Nicholas Martinez was guilty of manslaughter without a reasonable doubt, so they would only pursue a petty charge. According to the report, the situation unfolded as follows according to LeMasters friend, Gordon Reece, who was skiing with him when the accident occurred:
“The collision occurred about 50 (feet) to my right. The impact caused both involved to tumble and slide about 100 (feet). The trajectory of the slide was downhill and across the fall line, [from] skiers’ right to skiers’ left. Ron LeMaster stopped about 100-150 (feet) below me. The snowboarder skid another 30-50 feet downhill from where Ron’s body came to rest. This indicates to me the speed of the snowboarder and force of the impact.”
In contrast, Nicholas Martinez claimed the following:
“Martinez said as he was coming down the left side of the run, he could see LeMaster in front of him weaving back and forth in the center of the run. Martinez said as he was getting closer to LeMaster, LeMaster took a sharp turn and began coming towards the left side of the run. Martinez (stated) he began yelling ‘Left, left, left’ attempting to let LeMaster know he was on the outside of the run. Martinez said he was unable to avoid the collision with LeMaster and their heads collided.”
One of the odd instances in this situation is that Gordon Reece claimed that the snowboarder grabbed his phone while he started to record the incident. Martinez denied those claims. The snowboarder also decided to not stick around after the collision to be with LeMaster, but Martinez claimed it was to clean himself off.
There are multiple reasons why the prosecution didn’t push for a manslaughter charge:
“No one saw Martinez snowboarding out of control, and he didn’t admit to being out of control, and investigators couldn’t determine if he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, [and] prosecutors couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Martinez was guilty of manslaughter.”
The LeMaster family is waiting till the end of the trial for an official verdict, but they are considering legal action against Martinez.
Jim Chalat, an attorney that specializes in ski law, said the following about the case:
“I’m surprised the snowboarder was only charged with leaving the scene. This sounds like reckless conduct. I’ve not been contacted by anyone in the case … (but) the family would have a civil claim of wrongful death…Skier collision cases are not barred by that assumption of risk. Skiing is not a contact sport. … Skiers have a duty to maintain control, look out and be aware of their surroundings. The presumption is that the downhill skier has the right (of) way.”
Image Credits: PSIA AASI