Letter: Whiteout series helps tell family’s story
May 5, 2017
My husband, Harry, along with our family, joins me in extending deepest gratitude to you and your staff for embarking with us onto what would become an unanticipated, unimaginable and most remarkable journey following the death of our son, brother and uncle, Jason (Jay) Taylor, at Keystone on Jan. 20, 2016.
We have been witness to the role, the process and the implementation of investigative journalism at its finest. The project culminating in the Whiteout series, appropriately named, stands to inform and benefit the public, both today and in the future.
By a decision made to commit Summit Daily resources of time and expense over many months to this project, the overarching lack of transparency and severe deficits in operational practices within the ski industry have been revealed. Colorado laws, once written to protect the viability of a fledging recreational industry so many years ago, have since come to wholly enable, protect and sustain an industry dedicated to maximizing profits, often at the expense of human lives.
Most importantly, we attribute Kevin Fixler's journalistic integrity, tireless dedication, unwavering stand, demonstrated, exceptional professional skills, courage, emotional intelligence, and strongly held personal values to bringing previously hidden truths about the Colorado ski industry to light. He has reached over all the high bars in reporting these truths, and supports them with hard-won facts.
Kevin has united individuals, families and communities, near and far, by raising awareness to the shared experience of suddenly having to navigate in uncharted territory when authorities notify of the ski/board/chair/avalanche/tree well death of a loved one on a mountain. After all, these deaths are not systematically reported; they don't have to be. If they haven't been consistently reported, do they even exist? Without evidence, the public assumes these deaths only happen to others; one in a million.
From the moment I reached out to the Summit Daily, and then first connected with Kevin to tell Jay's story, Kevin's work would come to make all the difference. Jay's life and death, and those of the 137 others, are now remembered and valued. My voice would never have been heard without his.
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An unprecedented body of current and historical data now serves as a foundation for knowledge and reference. Jay's sudden, out-of-order death was suspiciously swept under the rug as if he didn't exist, and the intensity and pain of that realization was layered on top of overwhelming shock and grief.
Jay's story has been recorded in the public view; that tremendous burden has been lifted from me.
Jay's life has been counted in a community of individuals whom have and will continue to remember him.
Jay loved skiing at Keystone; he loved living in Colorado, and looked forward to a wonderfully planned life in his newly chosen home in Boulder.
I could never have revisited Jay's final resting place adjacent to and approximately 15 feet off of Elk Run near ski lift tower No. 13, if not for Kevin Fixler.
And so, I remain forever grateful.
Congratulations to all whom worked so hard to make this breakthrough happen!
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