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February 14, 1992 - Image 23

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-02-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

and tan and
they ski.
And for two
weeks, they'll be in our liv-
ing rooms and dens daring
the most treacherous of
Olympic Alpine slopes.
Some of us imagine
ourselves waiting for the
racer's start and the flight
downward. For at least one
Bloomfield Hills family,
however, this season of
Olympics and Alpine skiing
reinjures a wound that isn't
easily healing. The scenes of
jagged-edged mountains
covered with snow hit too
close to home. But the faces,
it's the faces of the young
men that open it all up
This ‘was a 26-year-old
West Bloomfield resident.
A University of Michigan
Law School grad. An
athlete. Handsome. A
"gentle giant" as his
mother, Judy, called him.
The hard facts revealed
how Mr. Stillman, on vaca-
tion last August with his
friend, Jacqueline Raznik,
skied over a cliff and fell
600 feet to his death in
Zermatt, Switzerland.
His parents are still try-
ing to make sense of it all.
They're hoping that a net-
work news program such
as "60 Minutes," with
plenty of time, money and
investigative power, will
look at what happened to
their son on the afternoon
of Aug. 15, 1991. The in-
clination is to let go, to get
on with their lives. But, be-
cause there were no
witnesses to David's death,
the mystery surrounding it
This was a graduation
present for Mr. Stillman
and Ms. Raznik. The two
new attorneys would soon
be starting their legal ca-
reers, he in San Francisco;
she in Chicago. Mr.
Stillman had taken the
California bar exam prior
to the vacation. He was
certain he passed.
Before the vacation
started, they were given a
ride to Metro Airport by
Mrs. Stillman and David's

younger sister, Lauren.
David, .still on a high from
his graduation, gave his
father a card prior to the
vacation. The card was of a
gorilla hugging a baby
gorilla. The card read,
"You are always there for
me." It went on to say,
"Thank you for everything.
I really appreciate it all. I
love you very much."
For Dr. Burton Stillman,
who has looked back at
many moments he spent
with his son, the middle
child of three, this card was
a sort of closure.
Lauren also had one of
those haunting experi-
ences. She remembers
hugging her brother like
she never had hugged him
before at the airport. She
can remember thinking
that this might be the last
time she'd ever see her
brother again. As fast as
the thought came, it left
But like demons, the

thoughts come and stay for
Judy Stillman. Lauren
tells how she hears her
mother sitting on the side
of the bed, crying aloud
that this was a baby she
had who is now gone.
David Stillman and
Jackie Raznik arrived at
Zermatt, a ski resort
located at the famed Mat-
terhorn. This was summer
skiing, the kind of skiing
done on plush, white slopes
that during the afternoons
turn somewhat slushy. Mr.
Stillman, who had skied
since he was a child, was

considered an expert. His
friend, though, was a
At the Matterhorn
resorts, the ski runs have
roped boundary lines,
usually about five feet
high. Skiers are discourag-
ed from off-piste glacier ski-
ing. Off-piste means off-
course or literally ducking
under the boundary line
and skiing where few
others are.
There was a sign at a
gondola station about stay-
ing on the course. Nothing
on any of .Mr. Stillman's
maps, however, warned of
any danger. He and Ms.
Raznik decided to meet at a
restaurant while David
skied off-course. This time,
he apparently skied away
from a slope that some used
for timing runs. He actu-
ally stopped, turned
around and took a
photograph of what the
marked run looked like
from the off-course area.

David Stillman, left,
was an experienced,
expert skier. The
track of his fatal fall is
shown in the photo
below. The letters show
how David Stillman
skied down an overhang
which became steadily
steeper, before falling
over an ice break.
Mr. Stillman fell
approximately 600 feet
to his death.

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