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Snowmass ski patroller killed on the job in avalanche

Certain jobs in Colorado carry unique dangers for workers. For example, last weekend, a veteran Snowmass ski patroller was killed on the job when she was swept over a cliff by an avalanche. The 49-year-old woman had been a ski patroller at Aspen’s Snowmass ski resort for 26 years, but that didn’t make the job any less dangerous.

According to reports, the ski patroller triggered a small avalanche on a permanently closed run in the Hanging Valley Wall on Sunday afternoon. Her body was discovered about 40 minutes after the woman was declared missing. The Pitkin County coroner determined that the woman died of blunt force trauma to the chest and back.

Following the accident, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration arrived to investigate. They conducted interviews of ski patrol, the woman’s managers and others who may have had knowledge about the accident, a spokesman from OSHA’s Denver office said. The purpose of the investigation is to determine if any federal law violations occurred.

SkiCo, the woman’s employer, released a statement following the accident saying it was unaware why the woman was skiing in the closed area before the avalanche occurred. The statement said the company did not know of her intentions to be there. The woman’s friends and colleagues plan to gather this weekend to hold a “celebration of life” service.

When a worker is killed on the job in Colorado, his or her family members may be entitled to workers’ compensation dependency and death benefits. The benefits help the family make up for the financial support the worker provided before the fatal accident. The family may also receive assistance for funeral and burial expenses.

Source: Aspen Daily News, “Memorial service for Snowmass patroller set for Saturday,” Carolyn Sackariason, Jan. 3, 2012

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