DA skips skiing charges in lieu of criminal ones
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Although Michael Wolff originally was arrested on charges that included two skiing-related counts, those counts were not filed during a hearing Wednesday.
Wolff, 20, of Killeen, Texas, was arrested March 15 after he plowed into a ski class of children at Sunlight Mountain Resort. According to police, he was drunk at the time. Three children were hurt in the crash, one of them suffering a broken arm.
Wolff originally was arrested on charges of felony child abuse, misdemeanor child abuse, reckless endangerment, minor in possession of alcohol, skiing under the influence and ski collision with injuries. But those last two charges, skiing under the influence and ski collision with injuries, will not be pursued by prosecutors.
The reason, says 9th District deputy district attorney Gretchen Larson, is the two skiing charges are petty offenses and the DA’s office wants to concentrate on the more serious charges.
“The criminal charges carry consequences with them, the petty offenses just carry a fine,” she said.
Although skiers and snowboarders are required by Colorado law to avoid hitting people skiing or snowboarding in front of or below them, such an offense carries a maximum penalty of a $300 fine.
“If this case were to wind up going to trial, we’d want the jury to concentrate on the criminal charges and not just an offense with a fine,” Larson said.
In Wednesday’s hearing before 9th District Judge Thomas Ossola, Wolff was charged with felony child abuse, misdemeanor child abuse, three counts of reckless endangerment and possession or consumption of alcohol by a minor.
If convicted on the new slate of charges, Wolff could be looking at a possible sentence of six to 18 years in prison and more than $750,000 in fines.
In addition to his criminal liability, Wolff could also be vulnerable to a civil suit. According to Colorado law, a person can sue a reckless skier or snowboarder for injuries, damages and death caused by the skier’s negligent or reckless skiing.
Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511
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