Gwyneth Paltrow Testifies in Ski Crash Trial: ‘He Was at Fault’

“I didn’t know if it was an accident, but he was groaning and grunting in a very disturbing way.”

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow took the stand on Friday in an ongoing civil trial stemming from an ski collision at a Utah ski resort in 2016.

Retired optometrist Terry Sanderson, 76, initially sued Paltrow for $3.1 million, but that number has been reduced to $300,000, Deadline reports. Sanderson claims he suffered broken ribs and a traumatic brain injury after the actress crashed into him on a beginner’s slope at the Deer Valley Resort. Paltrow countersued, alleging that it was Sanderson who collided into her. She is seeking a symbolic $1 in damages plus attorneys’ fees.

The trial, which began Tuesday, had so far consisted of testimony from medical experts, friends, and family of Sanderson, but that changed when Paltrow took the stand on Friday, called by Sanderson’s attorney.

“I was hit by Mr. Sanderson and he was at fault,” Paltrow said near the top of her testimony, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “I assume that Eric [Christiansen] — who was our ski instructor who was there at the time, who was overseeing the event — he said, ‘I’m going to leave all of your information,’ and he said, ‘You should go ski down’ because my kids were waiting for me.”

Paltrow was on the slopes with her two children, Moses and Apple, and her now-husband, Brad Falchuk and his two children. None of them saw the accident, nor did Christiansen. In fact, Paltrow testified, she didn’t see it either since Sanderson skied into her back.

“I was skiing and two skis came between my skis, forcing my legs apart, and then there was a body pressing against me and there was a very strange grunting noise,” she said. “So my brain was trying to make sense of what was happening. I thought, ‘Is this a practical joke? Is someone doing something perverted? This is really, really strange.’ … I didn’t know if it was an accident, but he was groaning and grunting in a very disturbing way.”

She clarified that she didn’t actually think the accident was an assault, but it happened quickly and the thought crossed her mind as she tried to understand what was going on and the two skiers tumbled to the ground.

Paltrow testified that she moved quickly away, and then yelled at Sanderson because she was angry.

“You skied into my f***ing back,” she said she “screamed” at Sanderson, according to Deadline. “I was full of adrenaline …sorry I cursed.”

She said she didn’t ask if Sanderson was ok, in part because of that anger and in part because she thought it was a “minor” incident. The ski instructor sent her downhill, where her children were waiting, telling her he’d handle the paperwork.

“When you’re the victim of a crash, your psychology is not necessarily thinking about the person who perpetuated it,” Paltrow said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Later, she added that “I feel very sorry for him. It seems like he’s had a difficult life. But I did not cause the accident so I cannot be at fault for anything that subseqentially happened to him.”

Sanderson’s attorneys are expected to call him to the stand on Monday morning when the trial resumes. Paltrow’s children and husband are expected to testify as well.

A recording of the day’s testimony is available here:

* Additional reporting by Leigh Egan and KC Wildmoon. 

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[Featured image: Gwyneth Paltrow testifies during her trial, Friday, March 24, 2023, in Park City, Utah. Paltrow is accused in a lawsuit of crashing into a skier during a 2016 family ski vacation, leaving him with brain damage and four broken ribs. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)]