Bonsai Design sued over injuries incurred on Vail’s Game Creek Zipline

A platform at Vail Resort’s Game Creek Canopy Tour zipline attraction.

A lawsuit** (pdf) was filed in District Court last July against Las Colonias Business Park anchor tenant Bonsai Design and Vail Resorts for injuries a guest incurred on Vail Resort’s Game Creek Zipline Tour on July 7,?2017.

Lisa Cowles of Wisconsin filed the lawsuit (pdf) on July 22, 2019, challenging the “unreasonably dangerous and defective design, manufacture, installation, and maintenance of the ‘Game Creek’ zip-line course in Vail, Colorado.” Bonsai manufactured and installed the zipline course in 2015, and Vail Resorts operates it.

Ms. Cowles was injured on the longest segment of the zipline after she emerged from a stand of trees to see she was going far too fast to stop safely at the next landing platform. As she approached the platform at high speed, she observed the guide waiting for her jumping up and down and yelling something that she couldn’t hear. Ms. Cowles looked for the red and orange flags the guides had told guests indicated the braking system had been properly re-set for the next guest. She couldn’t see them. Ms. Cowles braced herself for the impact as the guide jumped out of her way. Ms. Cowles then collided at high speed with equipment and other obstacles on the landing tower in front of her. The lawsuit says the impact was so powerful that the entire zipline shook all the way back to the tower she had left above, approximately a half mile away. Ms. Cowles suffered traumatic brain injury, a concussion, a fractured knee, sprained ankle, bruises, lacerations and abrasions to her legs and face. She spent several days in the hospital before returning home to Wisconsin.

Ms. Cowles seeks costs of medical care, hospitalization, nursing and rehabilitation care she has already incurred, as well as care as needed into the future, plus damages for pain and suffering and her loss of earnings so far and into the future.

The Game Creek Zipline course consists of a series of seven ziplines totaling 10,000 feet in length. The course’s highest point is 270 feet off the ground. The entire course takes over 3 hours to plete, and Vail has marketed it as the “crown jewel” of the resort’s Epic Discovery mountaintop attractions.

Lawsuit charges defective design and operation

Vail Resort’s Game Creek Zipline course (Photo credit: YouTube)

Ms. Cowles’ lawsuit says guests using the zipline have no way to slow themselves in case of emergencies. It says the system “did not include any braking equipment or ponents that could be controlled by a guest” on the zip-line route. Rather, the course “places all control over the braking system … with the course operator and guides charged with acpanying and guiding guests down the zip-line course.” The design of the course requires guides to “re-set, re-position, and re-secure the braking equipment and ponents” between each guest’s arrival at the lower platform. The next guest was not to be sent down the zipline until the guide at the upper platform received notification from the guide at the lower platform that the braking system had been pletely re-set and was ready for the next guest. According to her lawsuit, an apparent breakdown in this system allegedly led to Ms. Cowles’ accident.

Daily Sentinel has not mentioned the lawsuit

Information about the lawsuit against Bonsai appeared in the Denver Post on August 11, 2019, but for some reason the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel has not covered the story. An internet search shows Bonsai Design was also named as a third-party defendant in another zipline injury lawsuit (pdf) filed in Hawaii in November 28, 2016. That case involved the Kohala Zipline in Kapaau, Hawaii, that Bonsai installed in 2011. The plaintiff sustained unknown injuries and the case was settled for an unknown amount.

A report published by the National Institutes of Health ( says the rapid proliferation of ziplines throughout the U.S. has led to a marked increase in zipline injuries in recent years. The rate of injuries increased by 52% between 2009 and 2012, with 70% of those injuries occurring the last last four years of the study. Injuries are typically broken bones and the most mon accidents are falls. Operator errors are also to blame, as in this recent zipline injury (video) to a ten year old at an indoor course in Florida.

Information about these law suits may be of interest to Grand Junction residents, since the City of G.J. has staked a lot on the success of Bonsai Design. In March of 2018, the City of Grand Junction signed a contract giving Bonsai Design $1 million in grant money for construction of their building at the Las Colonias Business Park, $42,000 worth of property tax rebates over ten years, waived $78,844 in development and impact fees, a gave Bonsai a discounted land lease valued at half a million dollars as well as other perks, for a total incentive package worth almost $1.7 million.

City taxpayers should know about information like the Cowles lawsuit that could affect Bonsai Design, and should be more informed about the increasing risks of zipline/adventure parks, since it could affect this business financially, and potentially leave taxpayers holding the bag.


**Special thanks to Dennis Simpson for obtaining, at unbelievable difficulty, a copy of the lawsuit against Vail Resorts and Bonsai Design, (pdf) so we all can see it. Thank you, Dennis.

Now you can get free, medically-accurate sexual health info anonymously via text

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To access the program, just text PPNOW to 774636 to get started. It’s 100% anonymous and 100% free.

New scholarship established for western Colorado LGBTQ+ students

Jeff Basinger, July 8, 1953 – May 6, 2018

Western Colorado’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender + (LGBTQ+) students have a new scholarship fund to boost their higher education aspirations, thanks to the thoughtful people who formed the Basinger Leadership Scholarship mittee. The Jeffrey Alan Basinger Leadership Scholarship was established to recognize beloved local resident Jeff Basinger, who died in May of 2018. Jeff was a strong advocate for western Colorado residents living with HIV/AIDS and members of the LGBTQ+ munity through decades of working with various munity organizations, and as a volunteer. Jeff worked on the “Vote No on Amendment 2” campaign in 1992 and was a founding member of the mon Decency Coalition, which later became Western Equality. He belonged to the Grand Junction Downtown Association and other munity organizations, had a deep working historical knowledge of the Grand Junction area, and a long and successful career working with the Western Colorado AIDS Project (WestCAP).

Why I voted “no” on Proposition DD

Proposition DD on the November 5 ballot would legalize gambling on amateur and professional sports and tax the proceeds at a rate of 10% to pay for “water projects,” purportedly projects proposed in the Colorado Water Plan.? I wasn’t sure how to vote on Prop DD until I did some research on it and put some thought into. What I found convinced me to vote “no.”

Here’s what I found out:

The hero of City Market 24 Road

David at City Market 24 Road


Meet David, the best employee at City Market 24 Road.

Have you ever gone into a City Market, asked a store employee for help finding an obscure product, had the employee march you all around the store for ten minutes looking for it, call the store manager who is also clueless, and then the employee finally shrugs, gives up and admits he or she doesn’t have a clue?

That’s not David.

David never fails to impress. He knows exactly where everything is in the store, he knows all about food, how to use all of the products in the store and lots more.

Grand Junction High School photos

In case you haven’t had a chance to tour Grand Junction High School prior to the November 5 election, the following photos were taken inside the school on a tour on Saturday morning, October 19, 2019. What the photos cannot relate are the odors in some of these areas, which were quite objectionable. Ventilation was lacking in many areas. Measure 4A on the Mesa County Ballot will fund construction of a new Grand Junction High School. The current building was constructed in 1956. AnneLandmanBlog urges a “YES” vote on Measure 4A for fund a new school:

Classroom on the east side of campus

AnneLandmanBlog Voter Guide, 2019

Wondering how to vote in the uping election on Tuesday, November 5, 2019?

Following are AnneLandmanBlog’s remendations for how to vote in the 2019 Coordinated Election Ballot for our area for 2019.

I reached my conclusions by attending Q and A programs about the issues, touring Grand Junction High School, talking to Mesa County School District 51 School Board members, researching Secretary of State reports about the funders who are promoting and opposing the ballot issues and researching information related to the ballot issues (e.g. societal costs associated with gambling, the condition of the Las Colonias land with respect to mill tailings remediation there) and by taking into consideration what I know about local history that is pertinent to the issues.

Here are the remendations on how to vote:

Mesa County blunders headline on economic development web page

The headline today on Mesa County’s web page about economic development. Can you say “embarrassing”?

Way to rep the county, Mesa County missioners.

Mesa County’s website about economic development seeks to lure businesses to here and to “elevate the munity profile,” so it doesn’t help when the county blunders the big headline of the page that seeks to do that. missioners might want to correct the glaring misspelling in the page’s headline. The error gives business owners the impression that education is unimportant in Mesa County, but that can’t possibly be true, can it?

Rick Wagner’s column illustrates problems with conservative thought

Rick Wagner’s column in the October 16, 2019 issue of the Daily Sentinel

In his column in the 10/16/2019 issue of the Daily Sentinel, local lawyer and perennially annoying right-wing political columnist Rick Wagner asks why Proposition CC on the current ballot is identified using double letters. “Have we run through the alphabet once already?” Wagner guesses, apparently attempting to infer something negative about the state ballot. He doesn’t answer the question, and is content to not to find out the real answer.

This demonstrates a mon problem with right wing argumentation: They are an incurious bunch and think information doesn’t matter. Don’t know something? Gloss over it, make a joke, make some incorrect innuendo. No one cares, no big deal.

Wagner thinks his readers should just take his word for whatever he says.

Performance evaluations for Janet Rowland’s first terms as missioner, by citizens

Performance evaluations by citizens of former Mesa County missioner Janet Rowland’s first two terms in office were disappointing.

A search of Daily Sentinel archives for information on Republican Janet Rowland’s first two terms as Mesa County missioner (2004-2012) turns up substantial criticism of her by Mesa County residents. These critiques amount to performance evaluations of her by the local electorate during her previous terms in the office.

For those who are unaware, Rowland is currently running for a third term as county missioner. State law prohibits anyone from serving more than two consecutive terms as County missioner. She can run again if at a minimum of four years has elapsed since she previously held the position. That is the case with Rowland and the reason she is able to run again.

But just because the law allows someone to run for extra terms as county missioner, is it a good idea?

Not in this case.