CSAC Explosives Lawsuit - Big Sky, Montana

BOZEMAN (AP) - A former Big Sky ski patroller who saw her co-worker die in an accidental explosion has sued the resort for $1.25 million. Shana Behr was working with Erika Pankow when Pankow was killed by an avalanche control explosive on Christmas Day 1996.

Behr is suing Boyne USA, Big Sky's parent company, for $250,000 to pay for the psychological treatments that resulted from her mental trauma and $1 million in punitive damages. "Immediately following the explosion, (Behr) was covered in blood and flesh. She could not tell whether it was hers or Erika Pankow's," according to the suit. The suit says Behr searched for Pankow and finally found her body lying in the snow in blood approximately 100 yards away.

The psychological damage from witnessing Pankow's death is ongoing, and Behr is still receiving treatment, the suit states. The suit alleges that Pankow's death and Behr's subsequent mental trauma was a result of Big Sky inadequately training the two women.

Pankow was killed on top of 11,166 foot Lone Peak, where the two had been sent to clear snow that accumulated at the top of the tram, and to detonate explosives to remove a cornice of snow that posed avalanche danger.

The Madison County Sheriff said Pankow apparently had triggered the fuse on a two-pound explosive without realizing it. As she was attempting to relight it, the explosive detonated, killing her and sending Behr sprawling in the snow.

Both women had taken the resort's one-day explosives training class.