Sunday, December 26, 2010

Safety Improvements Called for at California Resorts 11/2007

This news release is from 2007 but important enough to reprint here and now. See our blog entry covering snowboard deaths and snowboard safety experts here.
Lauren, 12/26/10 
News Release

Father who Lost Daughter in Horrific Fall at Tahoe Resort
Spearheads Actions to Dramatically Improve Ski and Snowboard Safety

Organization invites California ski resorts to collaborate for positive change
Sacramento, CA — A father who lost his daughter in a tragic snowboarding accident at Alpine Meadows in 2006 is taking action to ensure individuals and families are aware of safety risks at California ski resorts and that safety improvements are made to prevent avoidable injuries and deaths.
Today at a Capitol press conference, Dan Gregorie, MD, MsM was joined by Assembly Member Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) to announce the launch of the California Ski and Snowboard Safety Organization (CSSSO). Formed in memory of Dr. Gregorie’s daughter, Jessica, the CSSSO will promote increased ski and snowboard safety throughout California and seek to work collaboratively with California ski resorts to establish best-practice safety standards, policies and procedures uniformly across the state.
“The vast majority of the public is poorly informed about serious risks facing consumers and staff at California ski resorts,” said Dr. Gregorie. “Unlike most states with major ski resorts, California has no ski safety statute and no proactive oversight of ski and snowboard safety standards. We intend to work collaboratively with all parties involved to improve safety for winter-sports enthusiasts and, hopefully, significantly reduce the number of preventable ski and snowboard tragedies.”
“I commend Dr. Gregorie for working to improve consumer protection and safety at our ski resorts and his willingness to work with the California ski industry to reduce the incidence of ski and snowboard accidents in a proactive and substantive way,” stated Jones. “While it is never easy to foreshadow tragedy in any circumstance, I support preventive measures that diminish the inherent risks in any sport. Dr. Gregorie is to be applauded for turning his deeply personal tragedy into an organization that can help save lives and substantively increase ski and snowboard safety.”
Jessica Gregorie, an athletic and safety-conscious 24 year old was walking with her snowboard across the High Beaver Traverse at Alpine Meadows on February 5, 2006, when she slipped on the steeply sloped, icy terrain and rapidly accelerated into an uncontrollable slide over a cliff into the Granite Chief Wilderness area of the Tahoe National Forest. There were no signs posted to warn snowboarders and skiers of the potentially icy surface along the traverse or of the undetectable cliff below. In addition, Alpine Meadows provided no rope guidance across the steeply sloped traverse and no fencing above the treacherous cliff below.
After Jessica died, Dan and Margaret Gregorie sought information about their daughter’s death. Alpine Meadows (since sold to new owners) gave the Gregories a brief, factual summary of what happened and also sent them a copy of the ski-pass agreement. More than a year after Jessica’s death, there have been no significant safety improvements or changes to the area where she slipped to her death.
“The California ski industry enjoys unusually strong liability protections through a common-law doctrine of “assumed risk” as well as contractual-negligence waivers included on ski-pass purchase agreements,” said Dr. Gregorie. “Often the skier or boarder is not aware of the unknown risks they are supposedly ‘assuming.’”
Dr. Gregorie believes there is a clear and pressing need for CSSSO to serve in the public’s interest as a non-governmental, public-service organization. CSSSO will be positioned to:
  1. Monitor and inform the public regarding safety issues related to skiing and snowboarding at California resorts;
  2. Serve as an educational resource to the public and industry on best safety practices;
  3. Inform legislators regarding best-practice legislation and regulation in other states; and,
  4. Advocate for the passage of best-practice skiing and snowboarding safety legislation in California and partner with health and safety organizations working to ensure the safest possible recreational and work environments for the public and mountain operations’ personnel.
Dr. Gregorie has named prominent Californians to serve as trustees on the CSSSO board. They are:
  • San Francisco Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, a nationally known disability rights and public servant who has advocated on both national and local issues facing disabled Americans. Supervisor Alioto-Pier has been unable to walk since a ski-lift accident in 1981 when she was 13.
  • John Long, the founder of Highridge Partners in Los Angeles and a widely acknowledged industry leader in real estate investment.
In addition, Stan Gale, a ski-safety expert from Colorado affiliated with the International Society for Skiing and a National Ski Patrol member, has agreed to serve on the board.
Of special note, Congresswoman Mary Bono, whose late husband, U.S. Representative Sonny Bono, was killed on January 5, 1998, when he hit a tree while skiing at Heavenly Valley resort, has agreed to serve in an advisory capacity to the newly formed CSSSO board.
CSSSO will operate as a non-profit corporation based in San Francisco. Dr. Gregorie said the organization will seek to enter into cooperative and collaborative relationships with California ski resorts to establish best-practice safety guidelines in an ongoing effort to protect the well-being of winter-mountain sport enthusiasts of all ages and abilities.

Lisa Yates (916) 552-2650 or Cell: (916) 215-9550
Lori Aldrete (916) 552-2650 or Cell: (916) 501-2654 11/19/2007

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