Jerome “Jerry” Hatem, 59 a longtime Aspen resident and avid skier, was found dead late Monday underneath a snowmobile on the backside of Aspen Mountain, officials said Tuesday. Hatem was discovered late Monday near the top of Little Annie Road by a resident of the area, said Jesse Steindler, patrol captain with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
Hatem’s death appears accidental and likely occurred Sunday night, though he was not found until Monday night, according to Steindler and Pitkin County Deputy Coroner Eric Hansen. A nearby resident told sheriff’s deputies he heard a snowmobile go up the road between 7 and 7:30 pm Sunday but thought nothing of it because it’s a common mode of transportation in that area when it’s covered in snow. The man said he then saw the snowmobile overturned uphill from his home the next morning about 7 am, reports the Aspen Times.
“He thought someone rolled it and walked home,” Steindler said.
The resident went about his business all day and again noticed the overturned snowmobile about 7:30 pm Monday when he walked up the road to see who it belonged to, he said. When he got there, he saw Hatem’s body underneath the snowmobile and recognized him, Steindler said. The surprise discovery upset the man, he said. He then walked back to his home and called authorities.
The official cause of Hatem’s death remains under investigation and is pending an autopsy. It appeared to have been an accidental snowmobile accident.