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Missoula County Attorney- No Charges to be Filed in Fatal Mt. Jumbo Avalanche [AUDIO]

Rattlesnake Avalanche
photo by Steve Karkanen

Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg announced on Monday, April 14, that no charges would be filed in relation to the fatal Mount Jumbo avalanche on February 28.

In a news release on Monday,

Van Valkenburg said that the police investigation into the incident did not indicate that there was any evidence of criminal intent or even criminal negligence on the part of four young men who were snow boarding or sledding on Mount Jumbo at the time the avalanche occurred. Missoula Police had previously recommended that no charges be filed against any of the four.

Van Valkenburg said that his review of the incident, as County Attorney with the authority to prosecute felony offenses, centered on whether there was sufficient evidence to charge anyone with Negligent Homicide in relation to the death of Michel Colville or a serious misdemeanor such as Negligent Endangerment in relation to the injuries suffered by Fred Allendorf and Phoenix Coles-Scoburn, an eight year old boy who was a neighbor of Colville and Allendorf. “In order to prove criminal negligence, there would have to have been some significant facts establishing gross negligence or a conscious disregard for the lives of others. In this case, there was no such evidence,” Van Valkenburg said. He further added that the police informed him that Allendorf and Erin Scoles, the mother of the eight year old, had told them that they had no objection to the recommendation to not file any charges.

Van Valkenburg said that, while there was some evidence to believe that a trespass had been committed on a portion of Mount Jumbo closed to protect elk, he believed that it was more appropriate for the City Attorney to decide whether there was a sufficient legal basis to charge that offense since the City of Missoula generally handles prosecution of trespassing within its jurisdiction.

Missoula City Attorney Jim Nugent said last week, that the investigation by the Missoula Police Department found no evidence of any criminal action by those who caused the avalanche, but that any felony charges would have to come from the county attorney, and there will be no charges filed.

Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg

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