Man killed in snowmobile accident near Steamboat Lake
March 22, 1996
Steamboat Springs — A Pennsylvania man was killed Wednesday afternoon while snowmobiling near Steamboat lake. Steven R. Grutowski was riding on a trail north of the lake at approximately 4 p.m. when he reportedly struck a tree with his head. Rescue personnel tried to save Grutowski's life but he died at the scene.
Grutowski was one of four people on a snowmobile tour led by a guide from Steamboat Lake Outfitters. Grutowski was in the Steamboat Springs area on vacation with friends, the Routt County Sheriff's Office said.
"It was a terrible thing to have happen," said Don Markly, owner of Steamboat Lake Outfitters. "We're just all trying to deal with it,."
Grutowski's group was heading back to the Steamboat Lake Outfitters office on Ellis Trail when the accident occurred. Ellis trail starts near Hahn's Peak Village and heads northeast between little Red park and Big Red Park.
Grutowski was attempting a gradual left turn on a downhill section of the trail when the accident occurred, sheriff's investigator Paul Pirnat said.
Tracks from Grutowski's snowmobile indicated that he rode onto the upper lip of the trail. Investigators speculated that Grutowski was leaning to his right when the left side of his head and possibly his sled struck the tree. His snowmobile continued forward until it struck another small tree, Pirnat said.
Grutowski was wearing a helmet but he did not have the full face protection, according to sheriff's office reports. The speed of the vehicle has not been determined.
"We tell people that it's not a hot-rod thing, it's a scenic tour," Markley said.
Because of their spacing, no one in the group saw the accident, Pirnat said.
"We require people to keep a safe distance so they don't run into each other," Markley said.
One of the trailing members of the group found Grutowski lying unconscious on the snow. The rest of the group was brought back to the accident scene and while they attended to Grutowski, the guide went for help.
Routt County Search and Rescue was called to the scene and two EMT's were also present. Colorado State Park Ranger Dave Mcline told sheriff's investigators that when Grutowski's condition became critical, the medical personnel started CPR.
"The Search and Rescue guys were professional, organized and worked hard," Markley said. "Everybody involved did a super job."
A helicopter from St. Anthony's Hospital in Denver was dispatched. However, after an hour of trying to revive Grutowski through CPR, the medical personnel consulted with Deputy Coroner Doug Allen, who declared Grutowski dead. Allen is also a member of Search and Rescue.
After the death pronouncement was made, the helicopter was canceled.
Markley said because of their extensive training, his guides are rated just one step below an EMT.
"This is not the first time something like this has ever happened," he said. "I hope it never happens again. We'll make every step we can to avoid it."
An autopsy has been ordered by the coroner's office.