VAIL, Colo. (CBS4) – A Colorado family is suing Vail Resorts after an avalanche killed their teenage son.
The Conlin family told CBS4 they tried to talk to Vail Resorts on their own. They say they simply want to see something change so it can’t happen again. But they emphasized, after getting no response from the company, they felt it was necessary to move forward with an interview.
“Losing a child changes everything in your life and there’s just so much missed opportunity there,” Taft Conlin’s mother Dr. Louise Ingalls said. “He was a great kid.”
Conlin was 13 years old when he went through a secondary entrance to access the run called Prima Cornice at Vail Ski Resort on Jan. 22. The run was closed at the top. Conlin got caught up in a roughly three-acre slide that buried and killed him.
“A week after he died we had a ‘ski down’ and I went to the ski down and I skied for my son and I haven’t been on my skis since,” Ingalls said. “It’s just too difficult for me.”
As summer came, just before what would have been his 14th birthday, Conlin’s family started a prayer tree.
“What prayer flags do is every time they move in the wind they send a prayer up,” Ingalls said. “It’s very bittersweet because it reminds me of my loss, but it’s also one of the most beautiful reflections of our community.”
Conlin’s family says the community has helped them through the grieving process. But the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Avalanche Information Center, and Vail Resorts have said very little about the incident.
“Holding people responsible will hopefully prevent in the future this from ever happening again,” Conlin family attorney Jim Heckbert said.
Heckbert is representing the Conlin’s in their wrongful death lawsuit against Vail Resorts.
“It decided to leave that gate open and invite this young boy to his death, and the purpose of the lawsuit is to hold them accountable for that decision,” Heckbert said.
For the past six months Conlin’s family said they were just trying to carry on his memory. They set up a scholarship at his school and they hope to do something with his favorite sport, lacrosse.
Vail Resorts said they have not seen the lawsuit yet and are unable to comment.