Jury shown video of Taft Conlin’s final, fatal run as Vail skier death case wraps first week
EAGLE — The courtroom was stone silent as it watched the last moments of young Taft Conlin’s life.
GoPro video from Conlin, and another one of the boys with whom he was skiing, wrapped up the first week of testimony in the wrongful death lawsuit his parents filed against Vail Resorts. An in-bounds avalanche on Prima Cornice killed their son Jan. 22, 2012.
The first video, from one of the boys skiing with Conlin that day, was a few seconds of six kids having fun on one of the season’s only powder days — laughing and shouting as they enjoyed their day and one another.
The second was from Conlin’s own GoPro.
Below him is a long stretch of snow. Behind him is one of his friends. The camera pans around as Conlin talks over a distance of several yards.
The picture turns back to Conlin fiddling with his GoPro and helmet and preparing his gear.
Conlin’s gloves are hanging and his poles are planted in the snow between his ski tips in front of him.
After he has his helmet adjusted to his liking, he shuffles forward a couple of feet to put on his gloves and pick up his poles.
He pulls the pole straps around his wrists, pops his poles into the snow and starts down.
The video shows a few perfect powder turns before fading completely to white as the snow envelops him. A few seconds later, it ends.
Found the GoPro
Patrick McInerny, a Vail ski patroller since 1989, found Conlin’s GoPro. His son was 12 years old at the time, close friends with Conlin, and was skiing with him and the others that day.
McInerny was patrolling in Blue Sky Basin when the avalanche report went out over the radio. He knew where his son was skiing and called him.
McInerny rushed to Prima Cornice and found Conlin’s GoPro, not far from where Conlin was found.
Conlin had spent the night with McInerny’s son not long before, and McInerny carried that GoPro into ski patrol headquarters above Prima Cornice and handed it over to U.S. Forest Service officials.
The footage was shown publicly for the first time Friday afternoon, June 15, in District Court Judge Fred Gannett’s courtroom, the last thing the jury saw before breaking for the weekend as the trial’s first week came to a close.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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