Steamboat Springs No criminal charges will be filed in connection with the death of 13-year-old skier Ashley Stamp.
Mark Hurlbert, district attorney for the Fifth Judicial District in Eagle County, announced Wednesday he would not file charges. His decision comes after about four months of investigation and consideration.
"It certainly was tough," Hurlbert said about the decision. "It was a decision I agonized over, talked with a lot of other prosecutors about.
"It's a complex case, it's a tough case. When anybody has died, it's tough. When it's a 13-year-old girl, it's certainly harder."
Stamp, a member of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, died on Dec. 19 in a skiing accident at Vail Ski Resort. She was taking a practice run down the Gold Peak Race Area, preparing for a race, when she collided with a snowmobile coming uphill.
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 both working on the race crew.
Hurlbert said that after looking at police reports and witness statements he decided he could not prove with reasonable doubt that a crime was committed.
He said the snowmobile involved in the crash was tested on a similar slope with two riders of similar weight to those riding at the time of the crash. From that, they judged the snowmobile was probably going about 15 mph, he said.
Through the investigation, Hurlbert also determined several details of the crash that had been in dispute.
In addition to the snowmobile's speed, he concluded that the snowmobile had a flag and that its headlight was turned on.
The siren on the snowmobile likely was not sounding, he said. A snowmaking gun was working at the time of the crash, so a siren likely would not have been heard anyway, he said.
Hurlbert said Stamp was not wearing headphones at the time of the crash, as initially reported. The headphones were too big to fit under her helmet, he said.
The charges Hurlbert considered included careless driving causing death, criminally negligent homicide, vehicular homicide and reckless manslaughter.
The careless driving only involves a motor vehicle, so did not fit.
The criminally negligent homicide requires that there was a gross deviation from the standard of care a reasonable person would exercise, which Hurlbert could not show.
The vehicular homicide and reckless manslaughter charges require that there was a conscious disregard for substantial and unjustifiable risk, which would have had to be shown by Chard's speed, his actions and where the snowmobile was on the run.
"Certainly there was some sort of risk, but I don't believe it was substantial or unjustifiable," Hurlbert said.
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