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Entries in Hogadon Ski Area (1)

Tuesday
Dec282010

Wyoming Skiers Killed in Deadly Collision; Crash Highlights Risks

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CASPER, Wyo.) -- In a tragic Christmas Eve event that could generate new awareness around the importance of ski and snowboard safety, five-year-old Elsie Johnson and 23-year-old Craig Shirley died after a collision on the slopes at Hogadon Ski Area in Casper, Wyoming.

Elsie and her mother, Kelli, were stopped in the middle of a black diamond trail when Shirley came snowboarding down the path at a high speed and crashed into the two of them, Lt. Mark Sellers of the Natrona County Sheriff's Office said.

All three were taken to Wyoming Medical Center, where Shirley and Elsie were both pronounced dead. The hospital said Kelli Johnson was in stable condition.

Officials initially said that none of the victims of the accident wore helmets, but a Wyoming coroner later reported that Elsie was in fact wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

Shirley's father told the Casper Star-Tribune that the trail was covered in ice.

Sellers said the circumstances of the collision are still under investigation.

"This is certainly a tragedy," National Ski Areas Association spokesman Troy Hawks said. "This really speaks to the idea that wearing a helmet is not the silver bullet defense, and skiing in control and being aware of others should be the first line of defense of safety on the slopes."

There are no state laws that require helmets or other safety gear when hitting the slopes, although some ski areas, like Aspen and Vail, require children who take a skiing or snowboarding lesson on the mountain to wear a helmet.

"People wearing a helmet can still have a fatal accident while skiing and riding, since there are other ways to incur a fatal injury," Hawks said. "I suppose [the steady numbers] speak to the inherent risks of the sport."

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