EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. -- A Colorado skier was paralyzed after a snowboarder hit him at Beaver Creek, then took off. The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office has released a sketch of the snowboarder.
60-year-old Jeffrey Kovacik was skiing April 8 when he was hit and knocked unconscious. He’s still recovering at Denver Health Medical Center and listed in fair condition.
According to the National Ski Area Association, serious injuries on the slopes aren’t too common. But, because collisions do occur, there are rules.
Under the Colorado Ski Safety Act, you must stay on the scene and give your name and information to a ski employee if you’re in an accident.
According to an incident report from April 8, Jeffrey Kovacik was skiing on a beginner run when he was hit by a snowboarder. He told investigators the man told him to stay still and that he would get help. Instead, he took off.
Deputies released an artist's sketch of the snowboarder. They said he is in his mid-20s, has long light brown shoulder-length hair and a stocky build. He was wearing tan and dark green camouflage snowboarding gear.
“If you don’t stay on the scene you’re guilty of a petty offense which is the lowest level of criminal conduct,” said Attorney Jim Chalat. He specializes in ski law. He says he is seeing more and more hit and run type skiing accidents.
“It’s becoming more common and the reason it’s becoming more common is because the hitter; as we believe; is more sophisticated. They’re more knowledgeable. They have a criminal responsible if they’re caught,” Chalat said.
He adds it may not be too difficult to catch this guy either. “Everybody is skiing on a pass. That pass has a barcode. The barcode is scanned. Every time you get on a base area lift. That scan data is kept and it is digitally stored and it is searchable.”
Skiers and snowboarders at Arapahoe Basin say they try to share the mountain and look out for each other.
Anna Mango is a snowboarder. She said, “It’s common courtesy, of course. You want to make sure that you’re taking care of the people around you, so that they want to take care of you too.”
A skier, who didn’t want to be identified, said, “On the mountain, you’ve got to share it. You’ve got to be consciousness of one another and be kind to one another, share the runs. That’s why we love Colorado.”
It’s all about watching your surroundings said the Chief Operating Officer of Arapahoe Basin, Alan Henceroth. “People need to ski in a way that they can avoid people and objects below them and the downhill skier always has the right-of-way.”
Arielle Levav, said it’s like driving a car. “You’ve got to watch out in front of you, behind you, to the side of you, always looking, like a car, you don’t want to merge until you look.”
The snowboarder, if caught, is facing second degree assault charges. If you know anything call the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.,
If you think you may have any information about the suspect or this crime, please call the Eagle County Sheriff's Office at 970-328-8500 or Eagle County Crime Stoppers at 970-328-7007.