An 85-year-old woman has died in Colorado at a local hospital after a fall at Beaver Creek. According to the Eagle County coroner, her fall was witnessed and was not the result of a collision. The coroner indicated that it was likely due to the catch of an edge. The accident occurred on Wednesday.

The woman was later identified as Rita Lewis.

We’re still trying to track down and confirm additional details, though the current rumor is that this accident occurred on Sawbuck – a green run off of the Bachelor Gulch Express Lift.

This is the 15th skier/snowboarder death that has occurred this season, including a recent avalanche-related death in Telluride, two avalanche-related deaths near Crested Butte, a death at an Aspen terrain park, a backcountry touring death in Aspen, a death at Granby during night skiing, the death of a skier on Quandary Peak, the death of a 71-year-old at Breckenridge, a recent avalanche-related death, 21-year-old Daniel Giger (accident at Breckenridge), 26-year-old Bill Brockmuller (collision at Eldora), 53-year-old Daniel Mares of Arvada (cardiac event at Keystone Resort), 66-year-old Durwood Marshall of Silverthorne (cardiac event at Keystone Resort), and Bindu Sky Pomeroy (accident in Vail backcountry).

At this point, Colorado is approximately 55% through a ski season that lasts around 220 days – though it may be substantially longer this year at some ski areas around the state. This means that while the average number of deaths per skis season hangs around 12.45 skiers/snowboarders, the 2018-2019 season is on track for 27 deaths. This would make it the deadliest year in recent history, surpassing the 22 deaths that occurred during the 2011-2012 season.

Why are so many deaths occurring this year in Colorado? For one, avalanche danger is high due to a lot of recent snow. By our count, five avalanche related deaths have occurred this season. Another big factor may be the number of people visiting resorts. While official ticket sale numbers for the 2018-19 season won’t be available for some time, the lines definitely seem longer and they seem longer at a lot of the resorts where deaths have occurred. This could imply a few things, including that crowding leads to more accidents, as well as that crowding could indicate that more novice participants with less control are on the mountain.

If you’re planning a trip to the ski hill, make sure you know and follow the rules of the skier responsibility code. Eliminating the risk of snow sports entirely is impossible, but approaching these activities in a safe manner is something that helps to improve the experience of everyone on the mountain.

Editor’s note: Estimations in this article regarding death toll projection assume an even distribution of deaths throughout the season. This does not take into account that more deaths may occur on certain holiday weekends or during certain conditions that tend to be common in specific months. For instance, avalanche deaths may be more likely to occur in February while this specific risk may be far less at other times of the year, potentially skewing the projected number of deaths if that projection is based on equal risk of factors throughout the season, as is the case here.

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