Vail, Colo. — A jury in the nation's No. 1 ski state has convicted a skier of homicide for a deadly collision on the slopes.
Nathan Hall, 21, of Chico, Calif., was found guilty late Thursday in the 1997 death of Alan Cobb, 33, of Denver. Prosecutors had urged the jury made up of skiers or snowboarders to send a message that reckless skiing would not be tolerated.
Witnesses said Hall, a lift operator at the Vail Mountain resort, was skiing extremely fast in poor conditions when he collided with Cobb. Cobb died of head injuries.
"Today our ski slopes in Colorado and the world have been made safer," prosecutor John Clune said. "You can't recklessly ski and hurt somebody. I think the whole world should pay attention to this."
Hall had been charged with reckless manslaughter, which carries up to 16 years in prison. After 18 hours of deliberations, the jury found him guilty instead of the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide.
He could get up to six years behind bars at sentencing Jan. 4.
"I think about Alan and his family every day," Hall said after the verdict. "I am just thankful it is over. I hope for a brighter future for everyone."
Cobb's death and the subsequent deaths elsewhere of Michael Kennedy, Sonny Bono and several other skiers were followed by a crackdown on reckless skiing at several major resorts.
Two courts had thrown out the case against Hall, saying skiing recklessly wasn't enough to sustain a charge of reckless manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide. But the Colorado Supreme Court ordered the case to trial.
Hall did not testify, but the jury was played a recording made after the accident in which he said he was out of control and unable to stop. Hall described himself as an expert skier who had always been able to stay in control. "It was just this one time," he said.