Some details about fatal snowmobile accident released
January 3, 2014
Steamboat Springs — Officials on Friday released more information about the snowmobile crash that killed 9-year-old Ben Zamzow.
Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said an autopsy performed Friday showed Ben died from blunt force trauma to the head as a result of being thrown from his snowmobile. Ryg said Ben also was run over by a snowmobile being driven by a 15-year-old boy, but medical examiner Mike Burson was "very certain" that before Ben was run over, he already had incurred a life-threatening injury. Ben suffered a very severe neck injury that Ryg described as severe whiplash.
Routt County Undersheriff Ray Birch said the investigators were at the scene again Friday reconstructing the accident they think occurred about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. He said that next week the Routt County Sheriff's Office would be able to offer their theory as to why Ben was thrown from his snowmobile. He said there was a helmet found at the accident scene that they think belonged to Ben.
Birch said Ben had asked to go snowmobiling with a 55-year-old man, his 15-year-old son and their 26-year-old male relative.
The father, Richard Kovach, of Scottsdale, Ariz., was in the front of the group as they rode on Forest Service Road 550 northeast of Columbine. Birch said Ben was riding quite a ways behind Kovach. The 15-year-old was behind Ben, and the 26-year-old, David Oransky, of Chicago, was the last rider.
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Birch said the family members have been regularly visiting Routt County for many years, and they were very cooperative during the investigation. They were using their own snowmobiles, and Ben was using a snowmobile that belonged to his family.
Birch said the snowmobile ride was not affiliated with any tours, such as those offered by Hahn's Peak Roadhouse, a business owned by the Zamzow family.
Birch said the 15-year-old came around a sweeping corner and Ben was lying in the road. Birch said the teen did not have time to react, and his snowmobile rode over Ben. After realizing what happened, Birch said the 15-year-old stopped and tried to help Ben. Oransky avoided the accident and took over helping Ben while the teen rode ahead to get his dad.
When Kovach arrived at the accident, he picked up Ben and rode him back to the parking area, where there was a person with a vehicle. Ben was then driven to the Steamboat Lake State Park Visitor Center. CPR was administered, and Ben was pronounced dead after being taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center.
The tragedy devastated the North Routt County community.
A celebration of life service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Strings Music Pavilion in Steamboat Springs.
A snowmobile processional will be held after the service at 5 p.m. at Hahn's Peak Roadhouse.
A memorial fund has been set up in Ben's name at Mountain Valley Bank.