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Mark McCarron ID'd as victim in Vail avalanche, anger over marijuana mention

vail avalanche april 18 205x205.jpg
Big photos below.
On Friday, we reported about the tragic death of a snowboarder in an avalanche near Vail Pass; see our original coverage below. The victim has now been identified as Mark McCarron, 38, of Westminster.

As part of its original release, the Eagle Police Department noted that McCarron and friends accompanying him had been smoking marijuana, and even noted the strain, Dead-Head OG. We questioned whether this information was relevant or appropriate -- and it turns out a lot of other people did, too.

On Thursday, as we reported, a group of three snowboarders are said to have accessed a backcountry area near the pass called North Ptarmigan Hill. Then, at around 1:30 p.m., an enormous avalanche was triggered; it's said to have been ten feet deep and 300 feet wide. The snowboarder with McCarron was able to escape the devastation, but McCarron was swept into a stand of trees and died as a result of his subsequent injuries.

vail avalanche april 18 4.jpg
A Vail Mountain Rescue Group image from the avalanche site. Look below for more photos and details.
The Eagle County Sheriff's Office subsequently provided an overview of this information, but also added this: "Detectives with the Eagle County Sheriff's Office were informed that the parties involved were under the influence of Dead-Head OG (a strain of marijuana) at the time of the incident."

In our post, we wondered if this mention was a way of implying that marijuana had somehow been the cause of the accident -- a highly dubious assertion, to put it mildly. Given that Amendment 64 allows adults 21 and over to use and possess small amounts of marijuana, we suggested that this information would only be worthy of note if the victims were underage -- and given that McCarron was in his late thirties, that possibility is off the table.

Comments soon piled up on the post, with one person identifying herself as the girlfriend of the snowmobiler who accompanied McCarron to the site. She noted that McCarron's friends and loved ones were "livid" about the reference to marijuana, and the way that some media organizations, including the Denver Post, played it. She added that McCarron and his companions are "backcountry professionals...trained in avalanche safety" who "performed proper protocol and found their friend within three minutes of the slide. They did everything they could to save their best friend.

"They were not under the influence either, but they did have MJ on them," she added. "It is deeply insulting to us that these articles are alluding that MJ caused the slide, when indeed, was a freak accident."

We're featuring this complete post in an upcoming Comment of the Day. But other comments reinforced the message. Here are some examples:

OK wait so smoking pot causes avalanches?

Totally irrelevant! I have been skiing backcountry avalanche prone mountains for over 25 years, and smoked weed before every single run, and I am still here...smokin and skiin.

90% of the snowboarders over age 18 are smoking pot, wow.

I've never known mj to cause natural disasters. Wow, they're desperate to make it look dangerous now.

They should have been reporting that his family, which includes an amazing wife and 2 beautiful daughters are crushed by the accident. This family is devastated that they lost their husband/best friend and father!

This last note makes an important point: The mention of marijuana has stolen attention from what is clearly an awful situation for everyone in McCarron's orbit. The focus should be on him rather than on a legal substance that appears to have played no role in what happened.

Our sincere condolences to McCarron's friends, family and loved ones.

Continue for our previous coverage of the avalanche, including photos.



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102 comments
TheQuickening
TheQuickening

"@we suggested that this information would only be worthy of note if the victims were underage"

No -it's worthy of note if their intoxication caused them to make poor decisions on going into a dangerous area. You can say all you want about this new "freedom" but if you don't acknowledge that it is a psychoactive substance that effects perceptions and the decision making process you're either a fool or a liar. If you place yourself in dangerous areas or situations when you're under the influence, then it is definitely "worthy of note."

As much as you would hope to censor any negative aspects of legalization, you need to keep in mind that you're entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. 

Marijuana or alcohol use while in situations that may be hazardous (driving, snowboarding avalanche areas) comes under the cosmic rule of "play silly games, win silly prizes."

Steve Holmberg
Steve Holmberg

Eagle County Sheriff's office is full of unprofessional, judgmental losers who could not make it on a real police department. Posers! And the DA is a pussy!

Cynthia Negron
Cynthia Negron

People who die with alcohol in their systems are usually cited as having been drunk in news articles concerning their death. Same thing. Also... I think it may in part be the irony in the name "dead"-head that added to the "relevance" of the factoid.

Eric Delgado
Eric Delgado

NO, Not relevant.. how many people die with alcohol in their systems?

Amberle Howe
Amberle Howe

Is it appropriate for you to question it and then do EXACTLY the same thing right here?

Mark Slaugh
Mark Slaugh

Not at all appropriate. I'm sure a major brewing company would have issue if their beer was mentioned (and insinuated) as the cause of death. Absurd and immature.

esauis
esauis

wow, this sucks, especially for his family. Backcounty riders: if you have kids at home, it's time to hang the beacon up. Those fresh turns aren't worth the cost of your death!

Brett Finnell
Brett Finnell

Yeah, and if the people in the gulf states would stop smoking then there would be no hurricanes.

Pam Stiffler
Pam Stiffler

Only if the sheriff submits to a BAC test on his day off. A

DarlingCR
DarlingCR

When your unemployed, alone, and socially awkward, you become DonkeyHotay... This has been your WW public service announcement 

plantdoctor
plantdoctor

Very dumb to mention it, but no surprise coming from a cop.

Deborah Watts
Deborah Watts

Jace Larson I think you are getting this from someplace other than 9NEWS. The Associated Press is reporting the deaths. We have not confirmed this ourselves and if we've learned anything this week... it's that we aren't comfortable with information until we confirm it ourselves. James Richardson, I respect your knowledge... but please attribute information to the source so others can assess credibility. Better yet, let 9NEWS work to make sure we are accurate before we report things. Saturday at 4:52pm · Edited · Unlike · 4 Deborah Watts IS the media using the discriminatory, derogatory OPPRESSIVE and OFFENSIVE term POT..accurate? Saturday at 5:00pm · Like Jace Larson What, Deborah? Are you saying you don't like the word pot? Who is it offensive to and why? I think we usually use medical marijuana or recreational marijuana. I don't find that the word pot has been used to oppress a group of people. I don't think most people find it offensive. I think medical marijuana and pot are not always interchangeable. That's just me though. I'm open to rethinking my position on that word. Saturday at 5:05pm · Like · 1 Deborah Watts Would YOU want to be labeled a POTHEAD? Saturday at 5:28pm · Like Jace Larson No more so than I want to be called a drunk. Don't do pot to excess and you probably won't be called a pothead. Your argument feels thin. Margery Cunningham Walters 5 people die in an avalanche. How in the heck did you guys get going on pot? What is that all about? Saturday at 8:01pm · Like Deborah Watts SO YOU SIR, have not answered my question. Would YOU want to be labeled a POTHEAD? Saturday at 8:42pm · Like Jace Larson Nope. And I don't use the word pothead unless its in a quote. Saturday at 8:58pm · Like Deborah Watts WHO gets to judge excess? I think, 1 drink a day IS a DRUNK and or a few (HA) EVERY WEEKEND is a DRUNK LUSH ALCOHOLIC! If it is found THIS SHOOTER was DRUNK LUSH or on METH at a HOOCH gathering, BET nothing is said about that! Apposed to if the shooter had used marijuana. OHHH 9 BIGOT NEWS "pot holiday gathering"! Saturday at 9:00pm · Like Jace Larson Ok. Saturday at 9:01pm · Like

Jon Severson
Jon Severson

Yep. He's a sheriff not a coroner. Not appropriate.

Laurence Woods
Laurence Woods

Nice job Westword! Somebody's got to speak for this man and his family.

Natasha Schwertley
Natasha Schwertley

Why report something that had nothing to do with it? Instead of trying to be dramatic, I wish the "news" would just report the facts.

Scott R. Shriver
Scott R. Shriver

Idiots. If thy had alcohol you would report it. Dorks high or not. Report it.

Darren Lyman
Darren Lyman

The cops will take any and every opportunity to slander. FTP

Amelia Ebert
Amelia Ebert

I thought that was BS when I read about it in the Summit Daily. Good point. this has nothing to do with smoking weed. Did they actually search these people after the slide? How did they know what kind of weed it was? Sick if they did.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

Sources are reporting,'Marijuana is the LEADING cause of avalanches' !

It's more like the Colorado Avalanche hockey team is stoned off their asses ! They play like there's a 'Hooka' on the bench !

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

I was both stoned & drunk when I was run over by the train, costing me a leg . Aside from obvious STUPIDITY, which substance I wonder, had a more critical effect ? A cpl dozen gin & tonics or a few bowls of 'shwag' ?

LeeAnne Mia Golden
LeeAnne Mia Golden

Mr. Roberts, James wants me to send you a personal thanks, for reporting on what we should be, the tragedy.

Terry Swarbrick
Terry Swarbrick

I've been getting the malware warning for two days.. wth.

beautifulmess
beautifulmess

They should have been reporting that his familiy which includes an amazing wife and 2 beautiful daughters are crushed by the accident. This family is devastated that they lost their husband/best friend and father!  My love and prayers are with the family. Thank you for the article.

LeeAnne Mia Golden
LeeAnne Mia Golden

Hi everyone, I am the girlfriend of the guy who was riding the snowmobile. Thank you so so much for writing this article, as we are livid about what was originally released by the sheriff's office and later written by the Denver Post and news stations. The article was inappropriate, disrespectful and slanderous towards the individuals involved, friends and especially family; the article was anything but informative, rather a spit in the face and a mockery of this immense tragedy by capitalizing on a subject that isn't even worth mentioning. Let me be clear here and mention some things about this that are informative. The three guys involved are in their late thirties and are back country professionals, as well as properly trained in avalanche safety. They performed proper protocol and found their friend within three minutes of the slide. They did everything they could to save their best friend. They were not under the influence either, but they did have MJ on them. It is deeply insulting to us that these articles are alluding that MJ caused the slide, when indeed, was a freak accident; it was a Twenty foot slide that took out more than 400 yards. We do not know exactly what caused the slide, and it is appalling that the news would pin an act of mother nature on someone. Also, this was the fifth consecutive day that crew had been riding those lines, and the fifteenth year that our friend who passed had been riding. Thankyou again for addressing this issue Westword, as it not even been 24 hours the media had taken advantage of a tragedy to capitalize on another agenda.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

SSAASSD! ... aka Darwinism in Action


Bill Groom
Bill Groom

Cyn: when I clicked on your link my web browser warned me that that blog site contained malware and asked me to confirm before proceeding.

Steve Holmberg
Steve Holmberg

Totally irrelevant! I have been skiing backcountry avalanche prone mountains for over 25 years, and smoked weed before every single run, and I am still here...smokin and skiin.

TheQuickening
TheQuickening

@Scott Ikard  

At last the "Posting from Mom's basement; hitting a double column bong while eating Cheeto's" group is heard from!

Is that post truly representative of your mental faculties? The best ya can contribute? 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Terry Swarbrick ... the pathetic pot propaganda is so bad at WW that the Google bots detect it as Malware.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@LeeAnne Mia Golden Thanks for the post, LeeAnne, which we're going to make an upcoming Comment of the Day. Our sincere condolences for your loss.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@LeeAnne Mia Golden  "The article was inappropriate, disrespectful and slanderous [sic] towards the individuals involved, friends and especially family; ... they did have MJ on them"

Slander is the wrong term.

And the truth -- re: the marijuana -- is neither slanderous nor libelous.

hth.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Bill Groom ... Westweed has been tagged by Google as a malware distributor.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Steve Holmberg Plenty of folks have similar stories, Steve. Thanks for the post.

DarlingCR
DarlingCR

@DonkeyHotay you and the 6 other people in colorado that agree with your prohibitionist stance need to give up... not one logical argument you guys have. 

stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay  

Not nearly as bad as your pathetic prohibitionist propaganda, punkass bitch

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@DonkeyHotay  I'm waiting for it to be changed to,' Michael Roberts' WW' !

He submits around %98 of the 'news or stories of interest', & the publication is becoming ONE MAN'S OPINION ......

Jimmy
Jimmy

@michael.roberts Can you give us the ability to block this guy so we don't have to look at his predictable ramblings?

stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay <=== pathetic chickenshit anti-cannabis prohibitionist turncoat troll

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@michael.roberts ... plenty of drunkards use that same pathetic excuse to justify their Drinking and Driving.


DarlingCR
DarlingCR

@TheQuickening @DarlingCR yes, because your "perception of reality" is not altered. Had you ever smoke or ingested marijuana, you'd know that. You're not violent, nor irrational, unless your predisposed to violence or irrational behavior. You can function on marijuana.. Some more, some a bit less.. Unlike alcohol where you are impaired. 

TheQuickening
TheQuickening

@DarlingCR  

So you believe that mj has no effect on perceptions and that it is certainly okay to place yourself in dangerous systems while under the influence with your perception of reality altered?

TheQuickening
TheQuickening

@Jimmy  

It's not enough for you to retreat from reality with psychoactive substances -now you want to censor any post that disturbs your chemically altered reality?

NickatNight
NickatNight

@Jimmy @michael.roberts Censorship? DonkeyHotay is the usually the guy w/ anything interesting/differing to say.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stuka1 "still bad [sic] that Prohibition lost out with A64"

LOL! ... Freudian Slip?



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