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Nathan Enright's Death Is Second at Colorado Ski Resort This Season

A Facebook photo of Nathan Enright.
A Facebook photo of Nathan Enright.
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Nathan Enright, a 21-year-old who'd recently moved to Larimer County from Libertyville, Illinois, to attend college, is the second person to have died at a Colorado ski resort during the 2017-2018 season. Enright's injury took place while snowboarding at Keystone on December 2, the same day U.S. Armed Services member Collin Zak perished at Monarch — but his death wasn't reported for nearly a week.

The reasons for this delay include the specifics of Enright's situation and the peculiarities of the process used in Colorado to reveal such fatalities.

As we've noted in our previous coverage of Colorado ski area deaths, state and/or federal agencies don't officially gather information about resort casualties. That task is left to the ski areas themselves or industry groups such as Colorado Ski Country USA, which is associated with 22 resorts in the state, or the National Ski Areas Association, a Lakewood-based organization that compiles an annual list of deaths across the country sans names, locations or specific details.

These groups do their best to release the smallest amount of information possible about each episode, which tends to minimize negative publicity that inevitably accompanies such accidents. But this approach can lead to some deaths being effectively concealed from the general public. For example, Westword was the first news agency in Colorado to report that Jim Bell, a firefighter from Kansas, died after a ski accident at Crested Butte in February 2016 — and a Colorado Ski Country representative said he was unaware of Bell's identity when we contacted the group for a post the following April 18.

This 2013 Facebook photo shows Nathan Enright on the slopes. He was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash that led to his death.
This 2013 Facebook photo shows Nathan Enright on the slopes. He was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash that led to his death.

Specifics about the Enright incident are few. He is said to have crashed into a tree on an unnamed beginner's trail at Keystone on the 2nd, after which he was hospitalized. However, he didn't respond to treatment and was removed from life support on Tuesday, December 5. The cause of his death was determined to be head trauma; he hadn't been wearing a helmet. Word of his passing wasn't made public until December 8, and only a small handful of news agencies, most of them in the high country, made note.

Keystone didn't suffer a skiing casualty during the 2016-2017 season, when fourteen people died at Colorado resorts — one of the higher numbers registered in recent years. Enright is the first person to die at Keystone since Boulder artist Jason Taylor in January 2016, during the 2015-2016 season.

But according to the Summit Daily News, which produced an impressive series about skiing deaths this past April, the ski area has seen more than its share of tragedy. The paper, which documented 137 deaths at Colorado ski areas over the past decade, lists 23 deaths at Keystone, including that of ABC reporter John McWethy, who died there in 2008. (The sum includes Enright.) Westword contributor Teague Bohlen included McWethy in his list of the ten Colorado ski accidents that made national headlines post earlier this year.

We don't know if the current lack of snow at Colorado resorts was a factor in the deaths of either Zak or Enright. But their accidents took place much earlier in the season than did the first and second fatalities last year. The first person to die at a Colorado ski resort during 2016-2017 was Kevin Pitts at Breckenridge on December 19; the second was Kelly Huber, who fell to her death from Granby Ranch's Quick Draw Express ski lift on December 29.

In response to Enright's passing, Keystone vice president and general manager Geoff Buchheister released the following statement: "Keystone Resort, Keystone Ski Patrol and the entire Vail Resorts family extend our deepest sympathy and support to our guest's family and friends."

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