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Snowboarder, Skiier Die In Separate Pitkin County Incidents Just 35 Minutes Apart

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A skiier and snowboarder were killed in separate accidents reported within 35 minutes of each other Wednesday afternoon in Pitkin County.

Gabriel Lee Hilliard, 30, of Aspen crashed into a tree while snowboarding alone at Aspen Highlands through the double-black-diamond run in the Canopy Cruiser area of the resort. Hilliard was pronounced dead at the scene after another skier found him impaled by a tree branch on the left side of his chest. He had collided with a tree and the Highlands Ski Patrollers were unable to revive him, despite his wearing a helmet.

According to a press release from the Aspen Skiing Company dated 2010-2011, the Canopy Cruiser run in the Deep Temerity area are the newest terrain added by the Aspen Highlands. It reads, "the term Canopy stands for the prominent large trees in this area, whereas Cruiser is a relative term to your skill level on this challenging double-black diamond terrain."

Just about a half-hour later, Snowmass Village resident Keith Ames, 43, was reported to have been killed in an avalanche outside the boundaries of Snowmass, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Both bodies were recovered at the scene and will be undergoing autopsies.

"All of us at Aspen Skiing Co. are deeply saddened by these losses, and our sympathies go out to friends and families of the victims," SkiCo spokesman Jeff Hanle said told the Aspen Daily News.