As we've discussed in previous coverage of skiing deaths, determining whether an accident is included in the official resort-fatality total depends on numerous factors, including whether the incident took place in-bounds or out-of-bounds. But the case of Suzann Pennington, 55, is even trickier, if no less tragic. Pennington died days after falling at Copper Mountain, but there's debate about whether what took place can be definitively shown to have taken her life. More details below.
See also: First Colorado Ski Area Death of 2014-2015 Season?: Body Found at Eldora's Jolly Jug, published December 9, 2014
According to information from the Summit County coroner's office reported by the Summit Daily, Pennington, from the Missouri community of Reed Springs, had fallen several times on the beginners slope at Copper.
Pennington was wearing a helmet during her January 15 visit, and as you can see by this video, the beginners run at Copper Mountain is rather modest, especially in comparison with other parts of the ski resort.
Nonetheless, 9News notes that Pennington began experiencing head and neck pain, and the next day, January 16, she went to a Frisco medical facility for treatment.
From there, she was transferred to St. Anthony's in Lakewood, where she died on January 19 of what's described as a closed head traumatic brain injury.
The obvious conclusion is that Pennington's falls at Copper led directly to her death -- but the situation may not be quite so simple. 7News quotes Pennington's sister-in-law, Sarah Garoutte, as saying that Suzann had been "complaining about her neck and head for weeks" prior to her visit to Copper.
Garoutte believes that the ski-area fall and the fatal brain injury aren't related.
Whatever the case, Pennington's death remains a terribly sad situation for all involved. Our sincere condolences to her family, friends and loved ones.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.