Tahoe detectives probing alleged Northstar assault detailed in viral post (updated with Northstar reaction)
LETTER FROM NORTHSTAR GENERAL MANAGER BETH HOWARD
Below is a letter from Northstar’s general manager, Beth Howard, addressing this situation, as provided to the Sierra Sun Thursday. You can also see the letter here as well.
An open letter to our guests:
As the General Manager of Northstar California, I feel compelled to respond to a situation at our resort described by a guest regarding an incident earlier this season between her and another guest. It is important for everyone to know our first and foremost priority is the safety of our guests and employees, and we have zero tolerance for acts of violence. We conducted a timely, thorough investigation into this matter, and given recent interest we believe that it is important to report the results. As with any conflict between two parties, it can be challenging to sort through various positions, but we endeavor to do our best, and to resolve matters fairly based on the results of the investigation. Finally, we always strongly encourage law enforcement involvement and cooperation.
On February 25th, at approximately 1:50 p.m., Northstar Ski Patrol was immediately alerted to an altercation at the Vista Lift Maze. Ski Patrol, Security and Mountain Safety promptly responded to the incident and completed an investigation. One eyewitness to the incident stated Mrs. Danelle Muresan-Foster was the party who was physically aggressive toward another guest. The eyewitness stated that Mrs. Muresan-Foster collided into the male guest in the lift maze from behind; she fell to the ground; and, he tried to help her up. The same eyewitness also stated that Mrs. Muresan-Foster initiated the physical altercation by slapping the other guest. Mrs. Muresan-Foster admitted to the security officer who responded to the scene, a former Sheriff’s officer, that she slapped the other guest. No witness beyond Mrs. Muresan-Foster reported any physical violence toward her. The investigation also found that the other guest engaged in inappropriate behavior with abusive language. Our security officer repeatedly offered at the time of the incident to contact the local authorities for Mrs. Muresan-Foster, however she repeatedly refused. After concluding our investigation, Northstar restricted the skiing/riding privileges of both guests.
We have zero tolerance for acts of violence or abuse by anyone at our resorts, and will suspend lift privileges and mountain access for anyone who engages in this behavior, as we’ve done in this case. We are saddened that this incident took place and so negatively impacted the experience of our guests and staff. We strive every day to provide a fun, safe and enjoyable environment to all of our guests and we actively encourage our guests to act responsibly and respectfully towards one another during their time at Northstar.
Northstar Vice President and General Manager
UPDATE 1:55 p.m. THURSDAY:
Marcie Bradley, Senior Communications Manager for Northstar, issued the following statement via email to the Sun at 1:50 p.m. Thursday: “At Northstar, the safety of our guests and employees is our top priority. We have zero tolerance for acts of violence by anyone at our resorts and, in the rare event that a criminal incident does occur, we strongly encourage law enforcement involvement and cooperation. In this situation, the findings of our investigation do not support the claims of Mrs. Muresan-Foster and we are working with law enforcement regarding this matter.”
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Lake Tahoe-area law enforcement officials are investigating an alleged assault incident — which was detailed in a vulgarity-filled, one-sided blog post that went viral Wednesday — that reportedly occurred a month ago at Northstar California Resort.
On Wednesday, March 23, Danelle Muresan Foster, an Iowa resident, published her account of the alleged incident that she says occurred the afternoon of Feb. 25 at the Vail Resorts-owned ski area.
Her blog post at shredmom.com/blog details an apparent harrowing incident involving a snowboarder at Northstar punching her in the face after she approached him.
“We have detectives up there right now (at Northstar California) looking for witnesses; this is an open investigation at this time,” Sgt. Dave Hunt of the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said at about noon Thursday. “We’re investigating it as a misdemeanor assault crime … she apparently slapped him, and he then punched her in the face.”
According to Foster’s blog post, the unnamed snowboarder — whom she describes as a male in his ‘20s — nearly ran into her 9-year-old son as he was dropping into Northstar’s halfpipe and then yelled at him to get out of the way as he rode past.
Foster said she approached the man afterward about the encounter, and at that point he “threatened me and grabbed me,” she said in a Thursday phone interview.
“He was assaulting me first, by threatening me and grabbing me. I told him three times to get off me. It was pretty serious, and I was pretty terrified,” Foster said.
Her blog post goes into greater detail, alleging that the man said the following (the curse words have been edited by the Sun): “What are you gonna do b—h, f—ing cry about it? You can’t even f—ing ride, b—h. You know who you’re f—ing with?! I’ll have you kicked out! You don’t know who you’ve f—ed with now! You’re f—ing dead! Are you gonna cry, little girl? Go f—ing cry cause you’re f—ing dead!”
On Thursday, while reading from the incident report filed Feb. 25 with PCSO, department spokeswoman Dena Erwin said in a phone interview with the Sun that the suspect allegedly “yelled at her and bumped her with his chest. She said she tried to get away, he followed her, yelling at her … she then turned around and slapped him in the face, and the man then punched her in the left eye.”
Hunt on Thursday said the department didn’t do much follow-up beyond Feb. 25, considering Foster “didn’t mention anything to the deputy that somebody saw it, that there were any witnesses … and that she didn’t mention a suspect.”
“Her account (published Wednesday) has that information, that’s what we were looking for … so now we’re going back to look for the witnesses,” he said.
Foster’s blog post goes on to accuse Northstar and Vail Resorts for trying to cover up the incident.
Several voicemails and emails Wednesday and Thursday seeking comment from officials at both Northstar California and Vail Resorts for this story were not returned until 1:50 p.m. Thursday.
Resort GM Beth Howard, in an open letter to the community, defended Northstar’s actions during and after the alleged incident, saying that Foster was the one who was physically aggressive, and that she “collided into the male guest in the lift maze from behind; she fell to the ground; and, he tried to help her up.”
“The investigation also found that the other guest engaged in inappropriate behavior with abusive language,” Howard wrote. “Our security officer repeatedly offered at the time of the incident to contact the local authorities for (Foster), however she repeatedly refused.”
On her blog, Foster describes herself as “a snowboarding instructor, college soccer referee, writer, photographer, and stay-at-home mother of four.”
During Thursday’s phone interview, she said she’s been overwhelmed since the blog post became viral on Wednesday — both with positive support from Tahoe residents and many around the country, and negative feedback from other people who aren’t believing her story.
“I’m now getting threats from people who claim to be friends of the people who were there (on Feb. 25) … saying that I need to stay out of Tahoe,” she said. “Somebody told me I need a bodyguard. I’m very scared. This is a terrifying ordeal.”
When asked Thursday why she waited almost a month to publish details regarding the incident via her blog, she said was told that “there’s a small group of troublemakers” in the snowboard community at Northstar that constantly cause trouble for the sheriff’s office, and that “the resort doesn’t want the police there checking it out.”
“I’ve been calling the resort, I’ve been emailing back and forth with them … because I was trying to resolve the situation with the resort,” she added. “I am not an attention seeker. If you look at my blog … there is no advertising. I’m not looking for advertising, I have no desire being the center of a big media thing.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Foster’s post on her blog’s Facebook page, facebook.com/ShredMom, had been shared more than 1,600 times.
The Sierra Sun is committed to updating this story if or when more information becomes available.
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