Basalt man tangles with snowmobile
Chris Robinette went from preparing for a small jump on his snowboard to thinking he was going to die Friday at Snowmass Ski Area.Speaking from his room at Aspen Valley Hospital, the 22-year-old Basalt resident said an Aspen Skiing Co. employee on a snowmobile ran him over. He suffered a broken leg and broken kneecap, was rushed into surgery, and now faces weeks of rehab and crutches.Skico officials have not yet offered to pay for his medical expenses, Robinette said. He hopes to speak with a lawyer soon.The accident happened around 2:15 p.m. near the top of the Alpine Springs lift. Robinette was making his final run of the day.”I was going to go home to do some taxes,” he said.He entered a patch of small hills, or rollers, preparing for a jump.”Just as I was lining up for my jump, not even 10 feet away from where I was going to hit my jump, a snowmobile came right over the top of the rise,” he said. “It just took me out.”He estimated the snowmobile was traveling at 10 to 15 mph. The driver “says he was at a dead stop, but that’s crap because he went over me and the snowmobile was on top of me.”The driver had to get off the machine and roll it of him.”I felt my tibia break in my boot,” Robinette said of the bone in between the knee and ankle. “That wasn’t very pleasant.”I had about one second [before the crash] when the one thought that passed through my head was ‘I’m dead.'”His leg has a spiral fracture and his kneecap is fractured. The snowmobile driver asked if Robinette was OK, but “that’s about the only two words he said to me the whole time.”The area did not have signs indicating that jumping should be performed only with a spotter. Robinette said he doesn’t feel he is responsible for the wreck.”Even if I decided not to jump, it wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.One witness told him that the snowmobile was not using a warning light, a flashing, siren-like device that alerts skiers and snowboarders to the machine’s presence.”And it was going up a blind hill,” Robinette said. “As far as I’m concerned the dude was hot-dogging it, just trying to be cool or have some fun, and ended up f—ing me up in the process.”Skico officials did not return messages Monday.John Timmerman, a Tampa Bay, Fla., resident who witnessed the accident, said it happened quickly.”I saw the snowmobile going up, and the next thing I know the snowmobile was turned on its side and the snowboarder [was] laying down screaming,” he said.Timmerman said he heard the driver accelerate to get over a lip in the ski run “and the next thing I heard was unusual noises and somebody screaming.”He saw Robinette’s right leg “awkwardly laying to the right, half under the snowmobile. His leg was all mangled up.”After skiing off the Alpine Springs chair, he and two companions immediately contacted lift workers to tell them about the accident. This was Timmerman’s first time in the Aspen-Snowmass area. He said it was the best skiing in his life, but the incident left him feeling “empty. It ruined the whole damned day.”Robinette called Timmerman on Monday to thank him for his efforts. A Skico official called Robinette Monday and apologized.”But he didn’t offer to pay for the injuries or the hospital bills or anything,” he said. “I figured he would have offered … to take care of the bills. But he didn’t say anything like that. I figure I’d let him offer instead of ask for it.”He has rods and screws in his shattered leg and has been fitted with an air cast and crutches, which he will use for a minimum of four to six weeks.After completing some painful, preliminary rehab, Robinette was scheduled to check out of the hospital Monday.
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Fans, players and coaches on both sides of Stubler Memorial Field seemed to know it would come down just the way it did, regardless of who had the ball at the end.