GoPro Footage of Fatal Avalanche Shown to Jury in Wrongful Death Trial Against Vail Resorts

SnowBrains | | AvalancheAvalanche
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GoPro footage was shown to the courtroom on Friday.

GoPro video from Conlin and another of the boys with whom he was skiing wrapped up the first week of testimony in the wrongful death lawsuit his parents filed against Vail Resorts, reports Vail DailyAn in-bounds avalanche on Prima Cornice killed their son Jan. 22, 2012.

The first video, shown in court but not released to the public, was a few seconds of six kids having fun on one of that season’s only powder days, laughing and shouting as they enjoyed their day and one another. It came from one of the boys skiing with Conlin that day.

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The top entrance to the “Prima Cornice” run at Vail Mountain. On January 22, 2012, Taft Conlin and a group of young skiers entered the Prima Cornice run through a lower gate that was open. The top gate was closed. An in-bounds avalanche killed 13-year-old telemark skier, Taft Conlin. Credit: Vail Daily

The second was from Conlin’s own GoPro, again not released to the public. Below him is a long stretch of snow. Behind him is one of his friends. The camera pans around as Conlin talks over a distance of several yards. The picture turns back to Conlin fiddling with his GoPro and helmet and preparing his gear. Conlin’s gloves are hanging and his poles are planted in the snow between his ski tips in front of him. After he has his helmet adjusted to his liking, he shuffles forward a couple of feet to put on his gloves and pick up his poles. He pulls the pole straps around his wrists, pops his poles into the snow and starts down.

The video shows a few perfect powder turns before fading completely to white as the snow envelopes him. A few seconds later, it ends.

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The area where the avalanche took place.

Patrick McInerny, a Vail ski patroller since 1989, found Conlin’s GoPro. His son was 12 years old at the time and was close friends with Conlin. He was skiing with Conlin and the others that day. McInerny was patrolling in Blue Sky Basin when the avalanche report went out over the radio. He knew where his son was skiing and called him. McInerny rushed to Prima Cornice and found Conlin’s GoPro, not far from where Conlin was found. Conlin had spent the night with McInerny’s son not long before, and McInerny carried that GoPro into ski patrol headquarters above Prima Cornice and handed it over to U.S. Forest Service officials.

The footage was shown publically for the first time Friday afternoon, June 15, in District Court Judge Fred Gannett’s courtroom, the last thing the jury saw before breaking for the weekend as the trial’s first week came to a close.

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