Widow of John Sherwood, Skier Who Died at Breck, Sues Teen Over Fatal Collision

Update: In April, John Sherwood, a resident of Randolph, New Jersey, was killed at the Breckenridge ski resort following a collision with another skier; see our previous coverage below.

No criminal charges were filed in the cases — but now, Tracey Sherwood, John's widow, has filed a lawsuit in Denver's branch of U.S. District Court, over the tragic death. Those named include Max Switzer, the Waterville, New Hampshire, sixteen-year-old who struck Sherwood, as well as his mother, Leslie Switzer, and New Hampshire-based ski coach Dan Shuffleton, who was in charge of supervising Max and other members of his competitive ski team, the Waterville Valley Academy Black and Blue Trail Smashers.

According to the suit, on view below, the team was in Colorado to participate in the U.S. Snowboard and Freeskiing Association meet at Copper Mountain.

The April 4 incident took place on Tiger Run, an attraction on Breck's Peak 8 rated a double black diamond. The suit maintains that Shuffleton "was aware of conditions on the 'Tiger Run,' which, if not reasonably approached by the skiers under his supervision, including Switzer, could cause injury or death to other skiers."

At around 12:30 p.m. that day, the suit continues, Sherwood was "skiing downhill from Switzer in control of his speed and course" when the teen "collided into Mr. Sherwood from uphill, behind, and at a high rate of speed, causing Mr. Sherwood to suffer injuries resulting in his death." The document adds: "The sole proximate cause of the collision was the negligent manner in which Defendant Mr. Switzer was skiing."

An excerpt from Sherwood's obituary reads:
John D. Sherwood, 42, of Randolph, beloved husband of Tracey, devoted father of Nathaniel and Gabriel, treasured son of Lawrence and Patty, much-loved brother of Jennifer (Lewis) Beeman. John was taken suddenly as the result of an accident while skiing, on Monday, April 4, 2016. John, affectionately known as Wood or Woody, was born in Keansburg, on December 9, 1973. He attended St. Ann's Grammar School, Mater Dei High School, Seton Hall University, and New Jersey Institute of Technology. John was the Director of Systems Development at Prudential Financial in Newark. A dedicated father, John served as Committee Chair and Charter Liaison for Cub Scout Pack #109 as well as coach for his sons' baseball and sports teams.

John leaves behind a legacy of love. In addition to Tracey, Nate, Gabe, his loving parents and sister, John's life will continue to be celebrated by a multitude of extended family members including his in-laws and beloved nieces, nephews, godchildren, and friends.
Among the memories left on the page is this one: "John was an awesome guy. He made everyone feel special and important. We truly miss his presence. Heaven has opened its gates to welcome another wonderful soul. We also pray for his family and loved ones that they may continuously find the strength to go on during these trying moments and on days to come."

The lawsuit documents financial losses suffered by Tracey Sherwood as a result of John's death and asks for "compensatory economic and non-economic damages in amounts to be proved at trial."

Look below to see the lawsuit in its entirety, followed by our earlier post.

Tracey Sherwood v. Max Switzer et. al.

Original post, 5:37 a.m. April 6: In recent days, we told you about a surprising ski-resort death: Hansi Brenninger, an expert skier who worked as an instructor at Aspen Mountain, was killed during a visit with his son to a ski area in Park City, Utah.

Today brings another story that's as unusual as it is tragic.

John Sherwood, a 43-year-old from Randolph, New Jersey, died on Monday, April 4, at Breckenridge.

But rather than crashing into trees (the most common scenario), Randolph lost his life as a result of a collision with another skier — and law enforcement is looking for witnesses who might have seen what happened.

According to the Summit Daily, the incident took place shortly after noon on Tiger, a double black diamond run on Breck's Peak 8. The specific location: The chairlift near tower 25.

Here's a video showing the challenging terrain.

The incident took place shortly after noon on the 4th.

Sherwood was skiing with his family when he and another skier ran into each other.

Emergency personnel responded, but Sherwood failed to respond to treatment.

As the Daily notes, the county coroner was paged at 1 p.m. that day.

On his LinkedIn page, Sherwood is described as a New Jersey Institute of Technology graduate who worked at Lockheed Martin's Yonkers, New York facility prior to landing a gig as the director of systems development for Prudential Financial in Newark.

“We are very, very heartbroken toward the family and our deepest sympathies go out to them,” Prudential Financial spokesman Peter Price is quoted as saying in a piece on New Jersey's 101.5 radio, which also features condolences from Breckenridge Ski Resort Chief Operating Officer John Buhler.

At this writing, the headline of the Denver Post's article about Sherwood's death labels the matter a "hit-and-run ski crash," but that doesn't appear to be the case; the Daily points out that the skier who survived the collision "stayed on the scene and talked with investigators."

Nonetheless, the Summit County Sheriff's Office is conducting an inquiry into the incident — which is why witnesses are being solicited.

If you saw what what happened, you're encouraged to contact SCSO representative Meredith McKissock at 970-423-8929.

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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