Man dies in fall from roof at Steamboat Grand
February 28, 2008
Steamboat Springs — A Steamboat Springs High School graduate who served in Iraq with the U.S. Army died Thursday after falling six stories off an icy roof at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel.
Eric O’Hara, 24, lived in Centennial but was in Steamboat Springs to help out with his brother-in-law’s business, which is contracted to clear snow off roofs at the Grand. Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said that just before 4 p.m., O’Hara and another worker were standing on a piece of ice that broke loose. Ryg said O’Hara had released his carabiner to move along a safety rope, and he slid down the sloped roof unattached.
O’Hara fell over the edge of the roof holding the rope, Ryg said, but was knocked off the rope by falling snow. He landed on his back on a lower roof to the left of the Grand’s main entrance. Ryg pronounced O’Hara dead at the scene.
Ryg said the other worker was “double-carabinered,” meaning one carabiner remained attached while the other was released for movement along the rope. O’Hara used only one carabiner despite warnings from co-workers, Ryg said.
Intrawest, the parent company of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., is the property manager and partial owner of the Grand. Ski Corp. spokesman Mike Lane did not comment Thursday. Steamboat Springs police and rescue personnel responded to the scene but also did not comment.
O’Hara graduated from Steamboat Springs High School in 2002. In 2003, O’Hara served a six-week tour in Iraq with the U.S. Army. Sgt. O’Hara returned to Iraq with the Third Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division in 2006, after training at Fort Bragg, N.C. Joining him in that brigade were two fellow Steamboat graduates, Pfc. Patrick McMahon and Spc. Tony Haight. O’Hara’s second tour included hazardous daily patrols through the city of Tikrit.
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O’Hara said the Steamboat community provided an outpouring of support for local soldiers overseas.
“It has been wonderful,” O’Hara said in August 2006. “There are a lot of good people up there, and everybody always sends their love. I was lucky to go to high school there.”
O’Hara returned home in late fall 2007. He took classes at Metro State College in Denver, with thoughts of a career as a stockbroker.