We received an email from Lucy Wells after she had seen this horrible accident. This happens more than you would think so, thanks to Lucy informing us, we’re spreading the word to make sure that you guys out there enjoy your snow trip as much as possible. It’s a shame about what happened but it’s things like this that show the rest of us the dangers that lurk around the slopes.
Below is the email she sent us:
I wonder if you can help at all with some safety info i’m trying to get across to all the people that ski/board already or are thinking of planning their first trip to the mountains. I’m trying to spraed the word to holiday makers on the importance to stop skiing and wait in a safe place should they see a piste groomer on the run they are on. Previously i have done 5 ski seasons and no one had ever told me this. Although common sense warned me to keep a safe distance, i always saw some people who find the fresh groomed tracks too great to miss skiing on and therefore following the groomer down the run. This is what i’m trying to stop everyone doing. Piste groomers will still insist on grooming in the day whilest 1000’s of folk ski and indeed fall all around them. As i’m sure you know they normally keep it to night grooming only. I only wish they could stick to that.
Basically, myself, my boyfriend and parents were skiing in Lech 2 weeks ago and on Thursday 22nd as we were finishing the last run of the day we witnessed the most horrific accident i’ve ever seen. It involved a guy and a piste grooming machine which was making it’s way down the edge of a run. The guy passed me and my boyfriend on his snowboard, then approached the machine way too quickly from behind. He tried to pass it but lost his balance whilst beside it, he fell onto his knees and the back roller went over him and dragged him a few hudred yards down the piste. My boyfrind and i were the only ones that saw it happen, so straight away i started shouting and waving my hands to try and get the drivers attenton to stop. This was tricky on a very bumpy run with the groomer travelling pretty quickly, i was worried of falling too close to it also. Eventually once i was alongside the machine the driver saw and stopped. I won’t go into too much detail, but i got him to lift the roller. The poor German man aged 30, was hanging like a rag doll from the roller, his clothes were all caught in the spikes and machinery. He was unconcious and clearly very cut and broken. I couldn’t look after this, only collapse on the slope, bile rising in my throat. My father and a few others tried to help, until the helecopter arrived and cut him free.They were with him on the slope a long time, i assume trying to bring him round and stabalise him before they took him to hospital.
I was certain he died upon impact but a few days later our travel rep manged to find out he was still alive but with severe head injuries and broken arms and hands. This is still all i know, part of me would love to hear more and know that he is ok. But part of me doesn’t want to know the news if he is in a bad way. It comforts me to know just that much, he is alive. It’s terribly upsetting to one minute see someone fly past on thier board whooping with joy and the next see them lifeless. I gave a statement at the police station because if he doesn’t make it or doesn’t remember it i want him and his family to know exactly what happened and that he was having the time of his life before it happened. Also so that the piste groomer driver knows what happened, and realises that it wasn’t his fault. I don’t really know who is to blame for this terrible, avoidable accident but i can’t help but think ‘Who is permitting these groomers to go out onto busy pistes?’
Your readers don’t need to hear the gory details of this story but, if you could just print some information warning people of the dangers of following the these groomers hopefully another accident like this will never happen.
I know they are not common accidents but 10 years ago a 12 year old german girl lost her life in this way in front of her family, and there are possibly more in france that we haven’t even heard of. Saying that, Austria seems to be the worst for having grooming machines out in the day. On the last day of out holiday we saw 5 groomers all out on one run with skiers all around them going very close to the side indeed, i could just see another accident waiting to happen.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, i hope you can print some of this or something out of this to make people aware. I just don’t feel i can sit back now and relax knowing what i’ve seen and not do anything about it. I’m certain that when or if he can, the guy involved will try and take further action to stop groomers on the slope in the daytime.