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Ski season deaths: James Lindenblatt's is among two that won't count toward Colorado total

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On Friday, January 11, according to the Summit County coroner's office, Brownlee, 45, suffered what's characterized as a "non-trauma event" while skiing at Copper Mountain -- meaning that he didn't crash into a tree or the like. He was transferred to St. Anthony's Hospital in Lakewood, where he died.

A native of Missouri, Brownlee worked as a water analyst. He leaves behind a son, for whom a trust fund has been established.

To be included in resort death stats, Colorado Ski Country USA requires that an individual must perish on public portions of the ski area. (Aspen ski patrol veteran Patsy Hileman was on Snowmass property but just outside such a zone when she died in late December, so her case is excluded.) But even though Brownlee was in-bounds, the fact that he appears to have passed away in a manner the coroner calls "consistent with natural circumstances," CSCUSA spokeswoman Jennifer Rudolph says his passing won't be added, either.

The death statistics are meant to convey the overall risks of skiing at a resort, Rudolph explains, and because an accident doesn't appear to have played a role in his death, including him would create a false impression.

Why is Lindenblatt's death being left out? Because he wasn't at a ski area. Rather, the longtime Summit County employee and well-known adventurer (he was featured in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel's Outdoor Junkie blog as recently as December 26) died in an avalanche south of Marble, in an area beloved by backcountry skiers.

Continue for more details about the accident that took James Lindenblatt's life, including photos of the area where the avalanche took place.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts