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Safety while on the slopes is first issue for the skiers
BY JUSTIN MASON Gazette Reporter
Officials from the state Department of Labor are reminding skiers to observe a bit of caution when hitting the slopes this winter.
Ski accidents killed three in 2008 and nine since 2006. None of these fatal accidents or any in recent memory have been blamed on ski operators or their equipment, said Maureen Cox, the Labor Department’s director of safety and health.
“We have not had a catastrophic equipment failure,” she said Tuesday following a news conference at the Maple Ski Ridge in Rotterdam. “All of them have been skierrelated.”
One of those took place at Maple Ski Ridge in February of 2007. Christopher Johnson, 10, of Scotia, died after he lost control skiing and struck a tree at the small ski area off Mariaville Road. Police at the time said Johnson was crossing between two trails when he apparently lost his balance and struck a tree.
In another case, 62-year-old Robert Cunningham of Hamburg died at the Holiday Valley in Chautauqua in March 2008 after he collided with a tree while skiing down an expert-rated trail. An investigation determined he was skiing at a high rate of speed and was not wearing a helmet.
That same month, 72-year-old Dale Sherwood of Camden died of a head injury after traveling off a trail on McCauley Mountain in Old Forge. Sherwood, an advanced skier and member of the area ski patrol, strayed away from the group he was with shortly before the accident.
Another skier died at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington in December 2008. Gerald Reilly, 44 of Morristown, N.J., died if internal injuries after apparently losing control on an intermediate trail and striking a tree in a wooded area.
Cox and other Labor Department officials are hoping to avoid any more fatalities at the state’s 81 resorts and private ski centers during this ski season. Cox said the Labor Department annually conducts more than 450 rigorous inspections to ensure lifts are safe and facility operators are following safety procedures.
Now they’re urging skiers to do their part as well. Cox said some simple safety procedures can help skiers avoid trips to the infirmary, hospital or worse.
Skiers are urged to stay on designated trials and to stick with those that are within their skill set, rather than pushing beyond their abilities. Cox urged skiers to stay in control on the slopes, to be cognizant of their surroundings before stopping on a trail and to trust their instincts.
“If you think you’re going to fast, you probably are.” ................>>>>..................>>>>..................http://www.dailygazette.net/De.....r01701&AppName=1