- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

DURANGO, Colo. (AP) - Federal workplace regulators have cited southwestern Colorado’s Wolf Creek Ski Area after an employee died during avalanche training held outside of the resort’s boundaries.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Sept. 2 that the ski area lacked a way for employees to make emergency contact with base operations or to summon first responders on March 4, the day of the avalanche.

The agency also said the resort failed to evaluate the area for avalanche risks before allowing employees to be there. It proposed $14,000 in fines for both violations.

Ski patrol member Colin Drew Sutton died in an avalanche near Conejos Peak, about 15 miles from the resort. Patrollers had been flown by helicopter into the area for avalanche training.

Wolf Creek has contested the citations and is working with OSHA to resolve the issue, David Nelson, OSHA’s area director, said Thursday.

The Durango Herald reported Wednesday that the U.S. Forest Service is pursuing misdemeanor charges against Wolf Creek owner Randall Pitcher over the incident. Pitcher denies the charges, which concern unauthorized activity outside ski area boundaries resulting in the death of an employee.

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