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Summit County judge declares mistrial in criminal avalanche case

Trial rescheduled for early June due to lack of sufficient jury in case of two snowboarders charged with reckless endangerment after triggering avalanche.

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. — Summit County Judge Edward Casias declared a mistrial Thursday in the case of Evan Hannibal and Tyler DeWitt due to lack of a sufficient jury. The two snowboarders are charged with reckless endangerment after starting an avalanche near the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnels last year.

Potential jurors spaced out inside a courtroom at the Summit County Justice Center in Breckenridge on Thursday morning for the start of the trial. But the hearing was short-lived as Casias was forced to cancel the trial after a majority of the jury pool failed to show up.

“I’m disappointed for the parties not being able to address this the way that they should have today,” Casias said.

Hannibal and DeWitt are each charged with misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment after triggering an avalanche above the Loop Road at the Eisenhower Tunnel in March 2020. Though nobody was injured, the slide covered more than 400 feet of the active roadway below in up to 20 feet of debris and damaged a remote avalanche control unit.

A two-day trial was scheduled to kick off Thursday. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, prospective jurors arrived at the courthouse in two waves for the jury selection process. Casias said a total of 40 jurors were summonsed to take part in the selection, but only a handful actually made the trip.

> Watch video above: Colorado Attorney General warns of 'chilling effect' if avalanche forecasters testify in trial

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