Canyons prevails in wrongful death lawsuit
Canyons prevailed Tuesday in the wrongful death civil suit brought by the family of Jesse Williams, a skier who died in an in-bounds avalanche at the resort on Dec. 23, 2007.
The lawsuit advanced to trial last week at 3rd District Court in Silver Summit, over five years after the suit was initiated. On Tuesday, the final witness testified and closing arguments were made by plaintiffs’ attorney Mark Taylor of Siegfried & Jensen, a Salt Lake firm, and defendant’s attorney Gordon Strachan of Strachan, Strachan & Simon in Park City.
The jury took less than 90 minutes to reach its decision, according to court records. In the end, they responded only one question: "Did the Canyons fail to use reasonable care in its efforts to eliminate or alleviate the avalanche risk to skiers in Red Pine Chutes prior to the accident?" The jury answered "no," and effectively ended the lawsuit.
Canyons ski patrol was reported to have detonated "around 170 pounds of explosives in the area" the day before the avalanche to stabilize the snowpack.
"The slide occurred at 11:17 a.m. south of the Square Top peak and was 175 feet wide and between three and five feet deep," according to a Utah Avalanche Center forecaster, The Park Record reported at the time.
Canyons spokesperson Steve Pastorino said in a statement that the verdict "affirmed that Canyons’ avalanche forecasting and control were state of the art, that our employees were adequately trained and they properly performed their duties. Safety has and always will be the #1 priority in our company.
"Our deepest sympathy continues to go out to the Williams family," he said.
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Deputies found Baird’s vehicle at a trailhead in the Sawtooth National Forest about 20 miles northwest of Ketchum.