Avalanche investigators testifying in criminal case could have ‘chilling effect,’ warns Colorado AG | SummitDaily.com
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Avalanche investigators testifying in criminal case could have ‘chilling effect,’ warns Colorado AG

Jason Blevins
The Colorado Sun
The March 25 avalanche deposited as much as 20 feet of debris on the Loop Road above the west portal of the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel.
Photo from Colorado Avalanche Information Center

 

DENVER — Evan Hannibal happily handed over his helmet video of the avalanche that triggered below his snowboard and buried a service road above Interstate 70 last March.

He hoped the Colorado Avalanche Information Center would use the video and his first-person account to help educate other skiers and snowboarders. Maybe the lessons he learned from his close-up with an avalanche could help others avoid slides.

So when Summit County prosecutors used the video to anchor a criminal case and seek restitution for an avalanche mitigation device damaged in the March 25 slide, Hannibal argued that the charges could sway other backcountry travelers to stop sharing information with the avalanche center and its investigators.



Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, acting as an attorney for the state’s avalanche center, last week agreed with Hannibal, arguing that Summit County’s plan to call avalanche center director Ethan Greene as an expert witness “could have an unintended adverse ‘chilling’ impact on the CAIC’s ability to gather important information.”

Weiser’s office filed motions to quash subpoenas issued by the 5th Judicial District Attorney requiring Greene and avalanche center forecaster Jason Konisberg to testify as expert witnesses in the upcoming jury trial of Hannibal and his backcountry partner Tyler DeWitt.



Read more at ColoradoSun.com.


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