Questions in skier's death

State patrol: Information was released prematurely

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— The Colorado State Patrol on Tuesday acknowledged that some information about 13-year-old skier Ashley Stamp's death was released prematurely and as a result, may be inaccurate.

Certain details were "hearsay" and should not have been released until the investigation was complete, said Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Shawn Olmstead, the lead investigator in the accident.

Ashley, a star ski racer with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, died Sunday morning in a skiing accident at Vail Ski Resort. In preparation for a race, she was taking a practice run down the Gold Peak Race Area when she collided with a snowmobile coming uphill.

On Sunday afternoon, the State Patrol's Denver office issued a release stating that the snowmobile had a siren on, was traveling at 10 mph, and that Ashley was wearing headphones so "(may) not have been able to hear the siren." Olmstead retracted those details Sunday night when other witnesses came forward with statements that conflicted with the State Patrol's earlier release.

"Somehow, some of the information we may have put out too soon," Olmstead said. Olmstead said the officer in Denver tried to retract the information. But a number of media outlets reported the disputed details.

At this point, Olmstead said the State Patrol is not releasing information about the accident.

"We can't really comment on anything other than the fact that the investigation is going to be ongoing," Olmstead said. The Colorado State Patrol is "looking at absolutely everything that pertains to this tragedy."

Vail Ski Resort employee Mark Chard, 27, of Vail, was driving the resort snowmobile. Chard and snowmobile passenger Thomas Conville, also a Vail Ski Resort employee, were working on the race crew.

After the Colorado State Patrol finishes its investigation, it will give the information to the District Attorney, who will decide whether charges should be filed or whether more investigation is needed.

Mark Hurlbert, district attorney for the Fifth Judicial District, said he would not speculate about possible charges. He expects the report by the beginning of January at the earliest.

Olmstead said Vail Ski Resort has been cooperative in supplying information for the investigation.

The ski resort also is investigating the death, and has made all its information available to the Colorado State Patrol and the District Attorney's Office, said Jen Brown, spokesperson for Vail Ski Resort.

"Our focus continues to be on supporting the family as well as the Steamboat community," Brown said. "We're hurting here, too, for everybody there."

Funeral services for Ashley are scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday at Steamboat Springs High School.

The Winter Sports Club will establish an annual Ashley Stamp Scholarship Award to present to a female Alpine racer who demonstrates the qualities that were important to Ashley. Those qualities include an "incredible attitude," "fiery competitiveness" and staying true to the spirit of the sport, club members said. Anyone interested in contributing can call Sarah Floyd, Winter Sports Club athletics director, at 879-0695.

The Stamp family has established a memorial fund in Ashley's honor, and is asking that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the fund. Donations can be sent to The Ashley Stamp Memorial Fund, Wells Fargo Bank of Steamboat Springs, PO Box 774888, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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