Keystone snowmaker dies in accident |

Keystone snowmaker dies in accident

KEYSTONE – A 28-year-old Keystone employee and local AmeriCorps volunteer died early Monday morning when a snowmaking shelter in which he was working filled with water. Ben Bornstein was pronounced dead at Summit Medical Center about 7:30 a.m.

Coroner Dave Joslin said Bornstein, a second-year snowmaker, was in the cylindrical shelter to connect a snowmaking pipe.

Bornstein was in the structure at 4:45 a.m. when water filled it. His coworkers, who were working nearby, noticed something had gone awry and found Bornstein inside the shelter, Joslin said.

The metal structures contain valves for snowmaking air and water pipes. Snowmaking shelters are about 5 feet in diameter and sit down in the ground about 4-5 feet deep, said Keystone spokeswoman Dawn Doty.

Water was flowing over the shelter’s top edge when firefighters reached it, Snake River Fire Capt. John Young said.

Bornstein was trapped inside and under the water, Young said. Firefighter Dan Young, wearing a dry suit, entered the vault and, with the help of other firefighters, pulled Bornstein out, Capt. Young said. Firefighters began CPR and other life-

saving techniques.

Bornstein was strapped to a sled, and rescuers continued CPR while a snowmobile took him down the mountain to a waiting ambulance.

Joslin said the cause of death has not been determined. An autopsy is set for today.

Bornstein, an AmeriCorps Promise Fellow, went to work last February for Summit County Youth and Family Services. An artist himself, Bornstein said last winter he planned to expand local children’s understanding of art by developing arts programs for the county’s after-school day camps and summer camps.

Bornstein also organized the county’s Make A Difference Day in October and worked with Asset Builders of the Summit.

AmeriCorps volunteers dedicate a year to working with children and youth in national, state and local organizations. His year of AmeriCorps service in Summit County was slated to end in December.

“He had a great sense of humor, just a really kind heart,” said Jeanie Ringelberg, director of the Summit Prevention Alliance. “He was very creative and ready to back any good cause.”

Bornstein, a Denver native, graduated from Colorado College in Colorado Springs with a major in studio art. After college, he worked as a scenic artist at Colorado Springs’ Fine Arts Center, then moved to New York City to help with various stage productions. He also had his own studio in Brooklyn.

Keystone mountain operations director Chuck Tolton issued a statement about Bornstein’s death, saying it had had a “dramatic effect on snowmakers, all mountain operations departments and the Keystone community as whole.” The resort offered counseling Monday morning to Bornstein’s coworkers, Tolton wrote.

He called Bornstein’s death a tragic but rare incident.

“After 30 years in the business, he said he can’t remember anything like this anywhere,” Doty said.

Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at

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