Matthew Bowers's death is 18th of Colorado ski season, most deadly on record

Categories: News

a 100x95 ski accident.jpg
Matthew Bowers, a 36-year-old from Greenville, Texas, reportedly died on Wednesday after a skiing accident at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. By our count -- one an industry spokeswoman disputes -- he's the eighteenth person to perish on Colorado ski slopes this season, one more than the previous high mark.

At this writing, the Crested Butte Police Department is not releasing the name of the victim or details about the accident that took his life. However, the Gunnison Country Times reports in a digital edition available at the link above that Bowers was on Lower Gallowich, an intermediate trail, when he hit a tree at what witnesses said was a high rate of speed around 10:35 a.m. on Wednesday. Ski patrol members attempted to resuscitate him for nearly an hour, the paper allows, but he never regained signs of life. Gunnison County coroner Frank Vader told the Times the cause of death was "multiple traumatic injuries." Bowers was not wearing a helmet.

Joseph Shematek's Facebook profile photo.
In a statement, Eric Reiter, communications manager for Crested Butte Mountain Resort, said, "This is a tragic accident and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the gentleman who passed away."

This news follows word that 71-year-old Windsor resident Joseph Shematek died at St. Anthony's Hospital the day after injuring himself at Loveland Ski Area.

Using numbers generated by William Breathes, who's been tracking ski area fatalities since last month, the deaths of Shematek and Bowers are the seventeenth and eighteenth of the season. The largest number of fatalities during a single season prior to this one was seventeen in 2007-2008.

As noted by the Denver Post, whose count agrees with Breathes's, ski areas and associations don't keep official records of deaths at resorts. Nonetheless, Jennifer Rudolph, communications director for Colorado Ski Country, believes that Bowers's death was the seventeenth of the season, not the eighteenth. She adds that Colorado Ski Country counts eight deaths in 2012 at the 22 resorts that are members of the organization. Ski resorts that aren't members include Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone; there have been multiple deaths at the latter this season, including that of 23-year-old Castle Rock resident Truitt Hunter.

truitt hunter photo.jpg
Hunter Truitt died at Keystone earlier this month.
Rudolph stresses that when it comes to deaths at Colorado ski areas, "one is too many." As for why this year has been so deadly, she believes it's "extremely misleading and speculative to try to connect these incidents with any kind of trends or statistics. We can't really reach any conclusions about what happened in one state in one season.

"If you look at the number of accidental skier deaths last year, or in prior seasons, the number fluctuates," she adds. "It can't be traced to snow conditions or helmets. There's no single cause for accidental skier deaths. They happen for random reasons and they're isolated occurrences."

According to Rudolph, "these fatalities are happening, ironically, at a time when these resorts have never been more focused on guest safety. That's always the number one priority of resorts, but it's even more so now."

At the same time, she says that "each skier is ultimately responsible for their own safety. So this is an unfortunate reminder for people to obey the signs at resorts -- closures are there for a reason -- and follow the responsibility code."

Rudolph highlights the following pieces of advice from the code:

• Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.

• People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.

• You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.

• Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.

• Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.

• Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.

• Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.

Follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.

More from our News archive: "Truitt Hunter: Learn more about skier who died at Keystone in lethal season for resorts."

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
termas de chillan hotel
termas de chillan hotel

Skiing in the Colorado mountains is a great experience, whether you are a beginner, intermediate or professional. Based on your level of skiing, you'll have to select the mountain and equipment to ski with, with the help of mountain range authorities. The ski routes are different for different levels. Out of all the ski routes, snow routes are excellent and are the very wonderful places to ski. Colorado ski resorts are among them, where one can enjoy the sport of skiing to the fullest extent.


Craig Bowers left behind a wife and two young children. This is no good.


Heard that a young kid died after falling off cinch chair lift at beaver creek yesterday. Any word?

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

If marijuana killed this many people every year, the government would outlaw it for sure!


My friend and I saw the young boy after he fell off the chair lift at cinch express. It didn't look good. We haven't found any news as to his well being. He is in our thoughts and prayers.

Ghost of Nancy Regan
Ghost of Nancy Regan

Thank goodness we have the war on pot, maybe a war on ski mountains is needed. I can see it now, SWAT teams storming the mountain, shooting the friendly dogs people have brought to the mountain. Then throwing people off their skis and boards, maybe put them in a bon fire so they can't be used a skis anymore. Next they take down the lifts. We really need them crack down on this alternative lifestyle for the Saftey of our children!!!!


My kids and I saw it happen, and it was one of the scariest things I have ever witnessed.  Talked to a BC ski instructor the next day on the lift and he said the boy broke both his legs, but was okay.


So happy to hear that he is okay! How did he fall? Did you hear any details?

Now Trending

Denver Concert Tickets

From the Vault