Dallas Commercial Real Estate Attorney Dies in Skiing Accident

UPDATED: This story has been updated to include information from someone at the scene of the accident.

Joel Eastman, a longtime Dallas commercial real estate attorney, died Saturday after colliding with a tree, officials in La Plata County, Colorado said.

Eastman, 70, was skiing with his wife, Melissa, at Purgatory Resort near Durango in southwestern Colorado, and hit the tree around noon Saturday, county coroner Jann Smith told the Durango Herald. Purgatory Ski Patrol brought the man to emergency care by snowmobile, and then he traveled by helicopter to the hospital.

Smith said he was wearing a helmet.

Local NBC affiliate 9News reported that a resort spokesman said that a guest provided CPR to Eastman first, then the ski patrol took over efforts until about 12:40 p.m.

A person at the scene of the accident, but who did not wish to be identified, contacted People Newspapers with more information after the story broke.

Eastman was skiing with his wife and another couple when the accident happened. The husband of that couple began CPR, while Melissa Eastman called 911. It took eight minutes for ski patrol to arrive by snowmobile, and the friend continued CPR until they had set up their equipment, and then the ski patrol took over efforts, working to revive Eastman for 10 more minutes before taking him downhill by sled to flat land, where a helicopter from Mercy Regional Medical Center was waiting.

Medics from the helicopter did more extensive care next to the helicopter, but were unsuccessful, and Eastman was pronounced dead at that time. Ski patrol then took Eastman, his wife, and the couple they were skiing with to the base of the ski area by snowmobile, where they waited for the coroner.

The man had some basic medical issues but “we don’t think that would have caused him to have an issue before he hit the tree,” Smith told the Herald. The Coroner’s Office plans to perform an autopsy sometime next week.

At 1:15 p.m., the resort officials learned Eastman had died.

“Purgatory Resort, Ski Patrol and the entire Purgatory community extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to the family and friends of the guest who was lost today,” said Dave Rathbun, general manager for Purgatory Resort.

Eastman earned a bachelor’s degree and MBA from the University of Florida, and his law degree from Southern Methodist University in 1977, and specialized in real estate law. He was a member of the Highland Park United Methodist Church, and served on the boards of the Gladney Center for Adoption and the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association.

He is survived by his wife, Melissa; a daughter, Morgan; and a son, Davis.

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, former Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. She's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy.

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