Eugene "EJ" Poplawski, a former big-mountain telemark skier who competed in 2010's inaugural Adaptive SnoCross event at Winter X Games 14, was arrested on Friday in Salt Lake City, Utah, after a traffic incident led police to find drugs and guns in his home.
According to local news reports, Poplawski was pulled over by police around 1:30 a.m. on Friday, but he fled the scene. Police tracked him down at his Cottonwood Heights home, where they found a gun outside next to Poplawski's truck. Poplawski locked himself in an upstairs bedroom and refused to come out of the house, so police obtained a search warrant and called in a SWAT team, which used two canisters of tear gas to get Poplawski out of the house. A search of the house turned up at least two pounds of marijuana and at least six guns. Poplawski came out of the house around 7:30 a.m. on Friday and was taken into custody.
Poplawski is currently awaiting arraignment at a Salt Lake City jail on two felony charges: possession of drugs with the intent to distribute and fleeing and evading police, according to sergeant Mark Askerlund, of the Cottonwood Heights Police department, who spoke to ESPN on Monday.
In March 2006, Poplawski lost his leg while competing in the U.S. Telemark Extreme Championships at Crested Butte, Colo. He went off a cliff and his right ski snapped in half upon landing, causing him to lose control and slam his right leg into the base of a tree. He was airlifted to a Denver hospital, and later, his right leg was amputated above the knee.
"I'm not surprised it took two rounds of tear gas to get EJ out of the house. He's one of the toughest guys I know," said Noah Howell, co-owner of a telemark ski movie company that featured Poplawski's return to skiing after his amputation in its 2009 film, "The Pact."
Last winter, Poplawski placed fifth at Winter X Games' first-ever adaptive snowmobile cross event, the third Winter X Games discipline for disabled action sports athletes. It was the first snowmobile race Poplawski had competed in.