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Editor’s note: We will update this story as we learn more.
On April 24, infamous outdoor influencer and ski outerwear company owner David Lesh was arrested and charged with second-degree assault, a felony, and third-degree assault, a misdemeanor offense, stemming from a March 25 incident in which the former pro skier is accused of violently assaulting a fellow snowmobiler at the Spring Creek trailhead in Summit County.
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The victim, whose name was not released by the Summit County Sheriff’s office, suffered head and neck injuries and sought medical attention, according to a statement by the sheriff’s office. Several witnesses confirmed the victim’s account of events, and the assault was also recorded by the victim’s GoPro camera.
Lesh, who lives in Denver, was not present at the scene when deputies arrived but turned himself into the Glendale Police Department on Monday, April 24, and was released on a $7,500 bond, according to the statement.
This is just the latest in a long string of recent legal troubles for Lesh. In October 2021, the skier was convicted of operating “a snowmobile off designated road/route/trail” and conducting “unauthorized work/sale on USFS lands.” Lesh was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, perform 160 hours of community service, and was sentenced to six months of probation. In March 2023, he lost his appeal and is expected to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
The convictions stem from incidents, documented on social media and in a 2021 New Yorker profile, in which photos depict Lesh riding a snowmobile over the jumps at Keystone Resort’s terrain park, defecating in Maroon Lake, and standing on a log in Hanging Lake. He was initially charged with illegally entering the lakes, which are protected spaces off-limits to humans, but that charge was dropped after authorities were convinced that the images were Photoshopped. Still, it is illegal to shoot commercial photography on United States Forest Service land without a permit, so he was charged and convicted of that lesser crime.
The New Yorker profile, which dubs Lesh as “the most hated man in the Rockies,” chronicles many additional misdeeds, including allegedly riding a protected giant tortoise in the Galapagos Islands for another Instagram post and driving snowmobiles across bare tundra in Independence Pass and atop Mt. Elbert, both protected areas that forbid motorized vehicles.
The profile, in which Lesh participated, names Lesh as the person pictured in the Keystone, Maroon Lake, and Hanging Lake photos and quotes him as stating that social media posts including the photos increase sales for Virtika, his apparel brand. That turned out to be a key for federal prosecutors obtaining a conviction: According to court documents, Lesh confirmed on a podcast that “nothing that he [the author of the article] said was untrue or unfair.”
The investigation for the March 25 assault is ongoing, and the Summit County Sheriff’s office asks anyone with information to contact Detective Brandon Vail at (970) 423-8953.