EAGLE, Colo. -- An Oregon woman, skiing with her family at Vail, was knocked out cold by a hit-and-run skier on February 12.
Patricia Koenig suffered a concussion, broken arm, pelvic fractures, rib fractures and a severely swollen face. She now faces months of rehabilitation.
Family members didn’t see the accident, so they are asking for help finding the man responsible. So is Eagle County Crime Stoppers.
The crash occurred on Vail Mountain in the Game Creek Bowl area, just below Chair 7, around 11:40 a.m.
“We were skiing together,” Koenig said. “I went to the right, they went to the left.”
She said she stopped a few seconds later to see where her husband and sons were and was getting ready to take off again.
“That was it,” she said. “That’s the last thing I remember.”
Another skier came up, slammed into Patricia and then took off.
“We’re disappointed in human nature,” said Patricia’s husband, Ken, “that this person would leave someone like that. What if it was his loved one?”
Mr. Koenig told Denver7 that as their son skied up to the accident scene, he saw two people flagging other skiers away from Patricia.
“One of them said it was just a crossed ski tip accident,” Ken Koenig said. “We thought that was odd. Why would she be watching my wife cross her ski tips and fall?”
It wasn’t until the doctor decided to take some CAT scans that the Koenigs learned it was much more than a crossed ski tip accident.
The trauma surgeon found numerous injuries and did another scan.
Mr. Koenig said in retrospect that they think the two people who were flagging other skiers away, may have been involved with the hit-and-run skier.
Mrs. Koenig said the next thing she remembered was the ski patrol waking her up and putting her in an ambulance.
Family lived in Eagle County
The Koenigs and their two sons lived in Eagle County for years before moving to Oregon. Ken and Patricia met at Vail and got engaged eight days later. They married three months after that.
“We spent 29 years here,” Ken said, “and 15 years in Oregon.”
They said they cherish their return trips to Vail and Eagle County.
“It has a special place in our hearts,” Ken said. “Patricia taught skiing here.”
“We have family and friends here,” Patricia said. “It’s home.”
Ski Areas changing
The Oregon couple told Denver7 that everyone on the hill needs to take responsibility.
“I used to ski along the edge of the trails near the trees,” Mrs. Koenig said. “The snow was great, but I don’t do that anymore, because you never know when a snow boarder is going to come shooting out from the trees.”
Ken told Denver7, “The ski resorts need to provide better education. They need to have more cameras, more banners and more people keeping an eye on things, because there are more people on the slopes.”
Mr. Koenig said ski resorts, like Vail, have bigger and faster lifts transporting more people onto the slopes.
"Resorts have to admit there is a problem," he said.
When asked if she’ll ski again, Patricia nodded and replied, “I will. As a family, it is fun, but I’m going to be a totally different type of skier. I’ll get up early and I’ll get down early.”
The Koenigs told Denver7 they were surprised to learn about the number of fatal injury accidents on Colorado’s slopes this season.
On December 20, a 48-year-old Longmont man died after striking a tree at Breckenridge. Nine days later, a 40-year-old Texas mom died when she and her two daughters fell from a lift chair at Granby Ranch. On January 12, a 47-year-old Denver man died at Breckenridge. On February 10, a skier from Mexico died after crashing into snow at Breckenridge. And on February 15, a 17-year-old Texas girl died after hitting her head on a tree at Winter Park.
Mr. Koenig said he was also surprised to learn how many people are being pulled off the mountain for one reason or another.
He said more than 60 were pulled off Vail Mountain.
Injuries could have been worse
Patricia Koenig said as much as her injuries hurt, they could have been worse.
She was wearing a helmet, but was still knocked out and suffered facial swelling that lasted for days.
“I’m really lucky,” she said, "not just to have survived, but that a space opened up here at Castle Peak Rehabilitation Center. I didn’t have to go to Denver. I can stay here for my rehab. We have family and friends here. I’ve been able to see friends who I haven’t seen in years."
Patricia said she is becoming more ambulatory. She was able to get up and walk around today with the help of a cane. She still has six to 12 months of rehab ahead, but added that doctors say she should fully recover.
Eagle County Crime Stoppers is asking for the community’s help in identifying a possible suspect and assisting the Sheriff’s Office with its investigation.
If you have any information about the hit and run skier involved, call the Sheriff’s Office at (970) 328-8500 or Eagle County Crime Stoppers at (970) 328-7007.
You can also call 1-800-972-TIPS, or submit your tip online at www.tipsubmit.com or you can text a tip from your cell phone by texting STOPCRIME plus your message to CRIMES (274637).
If your tip leads to the arrest and indictment of any suspect involved, you could earn up to a $1,500 reward from CRIME STOPPERS.