Dec 2, 2020
SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Two backcountry snowboarders who allegedly triggered a snow avalanche near the Eisenhower Tunnel last March are now responding with a first-of-its-kind court motion.
Evan Hannibal and Tyler DeWitt are being charged with a single misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment and are being ordered to pay $168,000 in restitution.
However, the pair is claiming the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) violated their Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights.
In a motion filed Wednesday attorney Jason Flores-Williams alleges the Go-Pro video being used by prosecutors as evidence should never have been handed over to Summit County prosecutors.
The attorney says his clients gave the video to the CAIC in good faith, not knowing it was going to be used against them as evidence.
“He (Hannibal) believed he was contributing to overall knowledge of snow avalanches. It’s now being used to prosecute. You need to tell them, ‘What we’re using could be used against you,’” Flores-Williams explained.
Flores-Williams believes what happens in the case could have implications that extend far beyond Colorado. He believes his clients are being made an example.
“This is absolutely ridiculous. We’re fighting this message being sent that going forward skiing and backcountry life might be criminalized. What we’re doing here is defending the backcountry and this has implications throughout the entire Mountain West,” he explained.
Nobody was injured in the avalanche. However, a service road used primarily by transportation workers was buried under about 20 feet of snow. Expensive avalanche mitigation equipment was also destroyed.
District Attorney Bruce Brown plans to respond to the motion in court. He released this statement to FOX31:
“Information voluntarily surrendered without coercion enables prosecutors to use that information in court. I am unaware of any express or implied limitation that was placed on information obtained during the law enforcement investigation that would undermine that principal. It is important that every person charged with a crime have an opportunity to fully litigate all legal issues before a judge and have their guilt determined by an impartial jury of their peers.”
A trial is scheduled for late March.