GJ man, 19, dies from snowmobile injuries

Grand Junction man Tim Riley died Wednesday night at St. Mary’s Hospital from injuries he sustained two weeks ago while working at the Snowmass Ski Area.

Riley, 19, was riding a snowmobile while working the midnight-to-8 a.m. snowmaking shift Dec. 5. He apparently hit a tree near the top of the Hal’s Hollow trail, close to the midway unloading point of the Summit Express ski lift. Riley was found around 7 a.m. that day by a co-worker.

Aspen Skiing Company officials said they do not know what time the accident happened.

Riley was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital, then was airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital, where he was in a coma until he died, according to Joe McMenimen, a friend of Riley.

This was Riley’s first year working at Snowmass, but not his first year skiing there, McMenimen said.

“I met him here last year, skiing,” said McMenimen, who runs the Taqueria 85 restaurant in Snowmass Village. “He would come up pretty much every weekend when he was in high school.”

Working as snowmaker at night was the perfect job for Riley because it let him ski all morning, McMenimen said.

“He was a great skier,” McMenimen said. “Insane. The tricks he was doing ... he was just ripping it.”

Riley was living the true ski-bum lifestyle, McMenimen said. He would work all night, ski in the morning, and then sleep during the day in his van or on a friend’s couch.

When Riley’s employee locker was cleaned out, a handwritten cardboard sign was found in the locker. Riley and a friend had used the sign last year to hitchhike to and from ski areas,

McMenimen said. One side read: “Summit or Aspen.” The flip side read: “Grand Junction.”

“He was a really good kid,” McMenimen said.

By BRENT GARDNER-SMITH
Aspen Daily News


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