Earwitness suspects joint in recreation path caused electric skateboard crash, death in Vail

Adam Merriman was a snowboarding legend in Colorado

Vail resident Adam Merriman died last Wednesday after sustaining head injuries during an electric skateboard crash Tuesday.

A nearby pedestrian who heard the crash said he suspects Merriman hit a joint in the pavement between the North Recreation Path and Red Sandstone Park in Vail.

An officer arriving at the scene said he found the rear wheels severed from Merriman’s skateboard deck and described the joint in the pavement as “about 2 to 3 inches wide, with a depth of about 1 1/2 to 2 inches.”

Merriman is a legend in the local snowboarding community; a Slush Magazine story published Thursday describes him as “a snowboarding pioneer, an innovator and a patriarch of the Colorado snowboarding scene” who was featured on magazine covers in the 1990s and designed K2’s game-changing “Fat Bob” snowboard.

Merriman was also an experienced skateboarder who was known to take runs down the Vail Pass recreation path. He had just received the electric skateboard the day before the incident, according to the report.

Officer Brad Porter said it was a Halo Board Beast 2 electric skateboard.

“I observed one end of the board to be completely broken, with both wheels on this portion of the board to be broken and completely severed from the rest of the skateboard and skateboard’s deck,” Porter said in his report. “These wheels were still attached to the board, connected by wires that led to the battery pack. I observed these severed wheels to be the driving wheels (mechanism) that powered or moved the skateboard.”

Merriman was traveling eastbound on the North Recreation Path, which runs parallel to North Frontage Road in Vail. A person walking westbound said he heard the crash and rendered aid.

The person “had observed a ‘dip’ in the bike path, at the intersection where the bike path intersected with the entrance to Red Sandstone Park,” according to Porter’s report. “(The person) thought Merriman had crashed due to this dip in the pavement. (The person) had not witnessed the crash, only heard it and then turned to find Merriman on the ground.”

Another person who responded to the scene, the driver of a car on the North Frontage Road, said she thought Merriman momentarily left the bike path and traveled onto the gravel shoulder before crashing onto the bike path. But Porter said he saw no marks in the gravel to indicate that.

“I observed the bike path that Merriman was traveling was a mild uphill grade as you traveled west to east (Merriman was traveling eastward),” Porter said in his report. “I observed there to be a joint or connection at the intersection where the bike path and the entrance to the park met. This joint ran north to south the width of the bike path. I observed this joint to have similar dimensions as far as width and depth the entire length of it. This joint was about two to three inches wide, with a depth of about one and a half to two inches. This joint is the ‘dip’ that (the earwitness) had referenced. Just east of this joint is the portion of shoulder located on the north side of the bike path. I observed this area to be sand and gravel, with some grass portions. I did not observe any obvious marks or disturbance in the sand, gravel or grass that appeared to have been made by a skateboard wheel.”

Merriman’s death is not the first high-profile electric skateboarding death. In 2019, Detroit Tigers prospect Chace Numata died after his electric skateboard “suddenly stopped, as if it hit a rock, and he fell forward,” according to police. Numata was a catcher for the Erie Seawolves, the Double A affiliate of the Tigers.

Merriman’s death comes less than a year after the death of Gypsum local Carl Bunnell, who died after crashing on a Onewheel electric board on Dec. 2, 2021.

A complaint in U.S. district court says Bunnell was on a flat, smooth, asphalt-paved sidewalk when his Onewheel “suddenly nosedived while he was riding on the sidewalk, throwing him forward from the board.” Bunnell was wearing a helmet.

In May, U.S. Air Force Academy cadet Christopher Scott Ryong Adams died after fracturing his skull during an electric skateboarding accident.

On Friday, Vail Communications Director Kris Widlak said she’s not aware of anything being done to address the area where Merriman crashed.

“We do have people looking at the area as is typical after an incident,” Widlak said in an email on Friday. “I have not yet heard any information on who owns or maintains that spot, or whether anything can or needs to be addressed.”

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