Aspen man who allegedly pushed snowboarder from lift to plead insanity

Top of Loge Peak Aspen Highlands
The area near the top of Loge Peak, where Proesel allegedly threw a snowboarder from a chairlift. Photo: Courtesy of Aspen Snowmass/Flickr

The skier who allegedly pushed a snowboarder off a chairlift at Aspen Highlands in January is planning to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, according to statements made by his attorney in a Colorado courtroom.

RELATED: Skier pushes snowboarder off chairlift in Aspen

Aspen chairlift pusher
Thomas Proesel (above) plans to plead not guilty by way of insanity. Photo: Courtesy of Pitkin County

Per a report by the Aspen Times, 32-year-old Thomas Proesel of Aspen, Colorado, reportedly threw 28-year-old local snowboarder and photographer Seth Beckton from the top of the Loge Peak chairlift at Aspen Highlands after Beckton made an innocuous comment about the difference between skiing and snowboarding.

Beckton fell roughly 20 to 25 feet to the ground below, but was saved from any major injury by landing in a patch of deep, fluffy snow.

Despite Beckton being OK, Proesel was charged with attempted assault and misdemeanor reckless endangerment with regard to his actions. And on Monday, his attorney, Pamela Mackey, asked a Pitkin County judge to allow her to travel to Tennessee, where Proesel is undergoing mental-health treatment, so that he could either call or video conference the courtroom to enter his not-guilty plea.

“It’s very dangerous for him [to leave],” Mackey said of Proesel. “His mental state is fragile at best. We can’t put him on a plane.”

However, Aspen county prosecutor Andrea Bryan argued that entering a plea of insanity should require Proesel to be present in the courtroom. Mackey suggested subjecting Proesel to a three-day drive from Tennessee was excessive.

District Judge Chris Seldin requested both the prosecution and defense to submit briefs on the issue, on which he will make a ruling during a hearing on April 18.

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