Family Sues City and Ski Patrol Over Death of Five-Year-Old

by Monty Yolles on January 3, 2013

On Christmas Eve 2010, the Johnson family of Casper, Wyoming hit the slopes for some skiing.  Five-year-old Elise and her mother, Kelli, did not make it down their first run of the black-diamond slope, Dreadnaught.  They had stopped about three-fourths of the way down to fix a problem with one of Elise’s skis, when 23-year-old Craig Shirley crashed into Elise and her mother at a high rate of speed. Both Shirley and young Elise died from their injuries.

Anyone familiar with snow skiing may wonder why a 5-year-old was skiing on the black diamond slope, since the black diamond designation means the slope is recommended only for advanced skiers.  In this case, Elise’s mother is a ski instructor and Elise had skied independently for 3 years.

Following the accident, the Johnson family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Casper and the Casper Mountain Ski Patrol, alleging they failed to protect their daughter from an intoxicated snowboarder. According to the lawsuit, Shirley had been observed earlier in the day appearing intoxicated, and was estimated to be snowboarding at a speed between 40 and 50 mph.

It’s a fact that some recreational activities are more dangerous than others.  While you may willingly engage in an activity with known risks, that does not mean you assume any unreasonable risks of harm.  If you or someone you love has been injured or killed as a result of the recklessness or negligence of others, contact us today.

At The Yolles Legal Group, we specialize in restoring people’s lives after an injury.  If you were injured due to another person or company’s fault, you may be entitled to monetary compensation.  Monty Yolles, founder of THE YOLLES LEGAL GROUP, is an experienced Maryland personal injury attorney who can review your case and help you navigate the legal system on your road to recovery.  Call Monty Yolles today at (301)670-0443 to discuss your case, or send an email inquiry to

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