California skier killed after crashing into tree well

By |2022-01-04T19:10:29+00:00January 13th, 2014|

Everyone knows that downhill skiing can be a dangerous sport, but this is especially true when a ski resort fails to make safety its No. 1 priority. Over the past few years, at least three skiers have died after crashing into “tree wells” at a ski resort in Montana.

The most recent fatality occurred over the weekend and involved a 54-year-old California man who was skiing with his son in an area between two runs when he crashed into a tree well and died. For those unfamiliar with the term, a tree well is an open pit that forms at the base of a tree and gets deeper as a result of increased snowpack.

According to the man’s son, the accident occurred when the two were skiing in an area between a “double-black diamond” run and a “blue” run. The son said he waited for his father at the bottom of the hill and when he didn’t come down the son went back up the chairlift and searched for his father.

He soon discovered the tips of his father’s skis sticking out of a tree well. The ski resort reported close to 20 inches of new snow since Jan. 8, and 5 inches of new wet snow the day of the accident. Since 1978, there have been six tree well-related deaths at the ski resort.

wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the resort following a tree well-related fatality that occurred in 2011. The suit was filed by a German family that claims their son died as a result of the resort’s negligent handling of tree wells.

It is possible that the resort could face another suit stemming from the most recent tree well-related fatality as well. Lawsuits against the resort would likely argue that even though skiers assume a risk by participating in the dangerous sport, the resort had a duty to protect skiers from reasonably foreseeable dangers.

Source: Hungry Horse News, “Skier dies at Big Mtn. after falling into tree well,” Jan. 12, 2014


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Doug Easton has practiced law since 1971. After 20 years of practicing with various large litigation firms, he founded the Law Offices of W. Douglas Easton in 1991 as a solo practitioner. In the years that followed, Doug’s sons Brian and Matt joined him in the practice and helped build the firm into a powerful force to help right the wrongs done to their clients. Much of their success over the years has stemmed from the dynamic created by the familial nature of the firm and how harmoniously they all work together, each of their individual strengths complementing and fortifying the group as a whole. Accordingly, the firm changed its name to Easton & Easton, LLP in 2014 to better reflect the true dynamic of the firm and Doug now serves as Managing Partner of Easton & Easton. In 2015, Doug was selected as a Top 100 Litigation Lawyer in California by The American Society of Legal Advocates. In addition, Doug is listed in Strathmore’s Who’s Who, and in 2008 was named its “Professional of the Year” in Medical Malpractice.
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