Joseph Bottiglieri ID’d as man who fell in Highland Bowl, died a day later

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times
Joseph Bottiglieri, left, and his family.
Courtesy photo

The 57-year-old man who fell Thursday in Highland Bowl died the next day but wasn’t officially identified as a Washington, D.C., lawyer and father of two until Tuesday afternoon.

The Pitkin County Coroner’s Office said Joseph Bottiglieri of Rockville, Maryland, “succumbed to his injuries” Friday, though the cause of death was still pending further investigation, according to a news release sent out late Tuesday afternoon.

The man’s son said Tuesday he died of “catastrophic brain damage.”

The delay in the release of the name had to do with the availability of Bottiglieri’s medical records as well as procedures involved in organ donation, Deputy Coroner Audra Keith said.

Bottiglieri fell near the top of the Y2 run on Highland Bowl at Aspen Highlands and slid to the bottom of the run, according to an Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman. He was unresponsive initially, though responders performed life-saving measures and were able to establish a pulse.

Bottiglieri was helicoptered from mid-mountain at Highlands and flown to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction on Thursday afternoon. A day later, doctors told the family he was brain dead, Matthew Bottiglieri, his son, said in a phone interview Tuesday. He had been wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, he said.

“He was the best,” Matthew Bottiglieri, 20, said. “He was so genuine. He gave the best advice. I was always so proud of him.

“When you think about meeting a good person, that’s him.”

Bottiglieri said he was with his mother in Snowmass Village at the time of his father’s accident, but his twin brother, Nicholas, was with his father atop Highland Bowl. As he stood on his skis just before he headed down the Bowl, his father looked at the mountains surrounding him, turned to his brother and spoke his last words.

“He said something along the lines of, ‘Wow, I feel so close to God right now,’” Bottiglieri said. “Then he took two turns, slipped on the ice and tumbled to the bottom.”

A man standing next to his brother said he’d ski down to his father and told him to go get ski patrol, Bottiglieri said. He and his mother were soon notified and his hotel gave the family a ride to the hospital in Grand Junction. It was the family’s first trip to Aspen.

He said his father was an avid skier, runner and triathlete who especially loved cycling.

“Exercise was a huge part of his life,” Bottiglieri said. “He also loved the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Steelers.”

Mainly, though, his father was a family man, he said.

“He always put his family first,” he said. “That was his No. 1 thing. He did everything he could for us.”

Tracy Bottiglieri, Joseph’s wife, agreed.

“He was so proud of his family,” she said. “He was a loving man. He loved big.”

Joseph Bottiglieri was a partner in a Washington, D.C., law firm and specialized in product liability and other areas of commercial litigation, according to an obituary posted Sunday on the firm’s website.

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