Sad story...say a prayer for her and her family.
It sounds that something other than a fall caused this to happen. There must have been something else that is not being said.
Listening to the news this morning something doesn't make sense. The fall must have been more serious as they made her sign a release that she did not want to go to the hospital. I am a never ever on lessons, but when my daughter took lessons when we started her skiing she fell plenty. So it seems that it was at least serious enough for patrol to show up, right???--an instructor would normally not take on first aid duties and assesment??
Maybe she fell and hit a rock or snow gun? Its hard to see how anybody can have brain damage and fatally hurt during a beginner ski lesson...I just cant comprehend it...
Although I did see a beginner lesson go bad at CV one time...We were stanging at the top of Gravity taking in the views and a instructor had about 5 maybe 6 young kids teaching them...They all were going down timber trail and 2 of the girls kinda steered off path and went straight over the hill of Gravity...They made it about halfway down before they fell down and one of the girls ended up about 10 feet in the trees...Nobody was hurt, but maybe something like that happened...
Agreed there seems something missing in the description thus far, but perhaps not.
As a patroller, we see some rather inoccuous looking falls, but something's just not right (i.e. there's no obvious pain, bleeding, a bruise - but they just seem off). We'll ask several questions about how you fell, did you land on your head, etc. As much as possible, we'll suggest a ride in a toboggan for a look in our clinic if there's a slight ounce of concern.
"Refusals" happen regularly. If so, we have a small form we ask them to sign on the spot. If they refuse, we seek a possible witness to the refusal (liabilities are everywhere). That said, we'll back away but watch them go down the slope. Often, we wind up walking them in to the clinic once they get to the bottom and they have a second thought.
At our mountain, instructors must remain with the student until ski patrol arrives and as much as possible, remain with the student or nearby (we need possible statements from them as well).
I am surprised Tremblant is talking about the accident, though. That's surprising at this stage.
For what it's worth, I'm guessing a subdural hematoma. Very tricky: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subdural_hematoma
Sad - really. Sounds like the patrol did the right thing by insisting on advanced medical care right away (doctor!). Instructor did right by staying with Ms. Richardson the whole time (Liberty requires the same that Instructors stay with injured students even after patrol shows up). While instructors are not formally trained in first aid, they can (and do) provide valuable information to patrollers about how the accident happened.
Just a tragic tragic accident. Not speculating on whether a helmet would have helped (or not). Not blaming at all Ms. Richardson, but as all DCSkiers wind up their seasons in these warmer weather times, PLEASE PLEASE wear a helmet. Its not a cure all but it certainly can help. I'll be the first to admit, I didn't start wearing one until my son was of skiing age three years ago. Since that time, its saved my noggin' on several occasions - mostly from overanxious chair riders wanting to close the safety bar on my helmet!
Had I worn a helmet when I was 19, I may not have had to spend a month in the hospital after emergency surgery to remove a subdural hematoma. I got lucky - very very lucky - patrol recognized my condition, insisted I go to the hospital and I listened. Closed head injuries can kill quickly.
Sorry to be so preachy - prayers to the Richardson family.
Here's a pretty good article on the overall topic. I'd guess speed is the major problem in most cases -- and lets face it we ski MUCH FASTER than we used to. But a helmet clearly helps up to a point and should reduce overall injury, or at least that is what it would seem to me. I like mine and don't feel that it's uncomfortable or limits vision or hearing in any manner. It's been useful ONE time for sure, although it's no panacea either. I've a new helmet this year - a Giro G10, it seems a bit thicker than my older G9 from a few years back. It also has an adjuster on the back for a more custom fit which is nice, this is similar to what has become standard in bicyle helmets.
Richardson's Accident Reignites Ski Helmet Debate
By Liz Robbins (Ledes/NYT)
Whatever it was that befell Natasha Richardson on the beginner slopes of the Mont Tremblant ski resort in Quebec on Tuesday - so far, about all we know is that she had a fall and later had to be hospitalized - the incident has once again ignited an industry debate about skiing safety, and specifically about helmets, the kind of debate celebrity mishaps seem to inspire.
It has been a little more than 11 years since Michael L. Kennedy and Sonny Bono died in separate but eerily similar accidents: each was skiing without a helmet, and each crashed into a tree at high speed. Mr. Kennedy was reportedly playing a dangerous game of ski-football, while Mr. Bono was skiing off-trail.
Ms. Richardson, by contrast, was on a beginner slope taking a lesson - but she was not wearing a helmet, either, according to a spokeswoman for Mont Tremblant. The fall seemed to be a minor one, and she was not only conscious afterward, but talking and joking. It was only an hour later, when she complained of severe head pain, that she was rushed to a local hospital, transferred to one in Montreal for a higher level of care, and then airlifted to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
Though a confusion of unconfirmed reports were swirling in the news media about how grave her condition was - several, including The Gazette in Montreal and The New York Post, say she was profoundly and irreversibly brain-injured - no specifics had been officially released by Wednesday morning either about her condition or its cause; the fall on the ski slope on Tuesday might have simply aggravated a previous injury, or even have nothing to do with it at all.
Even so, people are already wondering whether the effects of the fall might have been mitigated if Ms. Richardson had been wearing a helmet.
Helmets, once rarely seen on recreational skiers, are becoming increasingly popular. According to the National Ski Areas Association, 43 percent of all skiers and snowboarders surveyed in the United States wore helmets in the 2007-2008 season. That is up from 25 percent in 2002-2003, the association says.
Even so, the rate of accidental deaths on the slopes - there were 53 recorded last season, 44 from skiing accidents and 9 from snowboarding - has not changed much.
"The situation is sort of mixed," said Jasper Shealy, a professor emeritus at Rochester Institute of Technology who has been tracking skiing and snowboard fatalities since the 1970s. "We'e now at the point where roughly half the population wears a helmet, and we've seen no difference" in fatalities.
But helmets do seem to make a difference in the head-injury statistics: Mr. Shealy's own research found a 35 percent reduction, and he said that other studies had found as much as a 50 percent reduction in head injuries.
"Typically, in the scenario that results in death, you need something more than a helmet to save you," Mr. Shealy said. Referring to helmet-wearing, he said, "Where it really comes into play is if you fall into hard-packed snow, and that can turn a serious head injury into a minor injury."
Helmets have been shown to protect the heads of recreational skiers traveling at a rate of 12 to 17 miles an hour, but typically not at higher speeds. Professional skiers and snowboarders, who surpass those speeds, are required to wear more sophisticated helmets.
Mr. Shealy's research has shown that for those wearing a helmet, "the chance that the primary cause of death will be a head injury is going down." But even if the pattern has changed, he said, the outcome has not.
The debate about helmets raged in Europe recently, after a prominent German politician, Dieter Althaus, was charged with negligent manslaughter and convicted after colliding with a woman on the slopes in Austria on New Year's Day. The woman who was killed - Beata Christandl, 41, a mother of four from Slovakia who lived in the United States - was not wearing a helmet, but Mr. Althaus was; he spent days in a coma but awoke again. Since then, ski helmets have soared in popularity in Germany and Austria.
Ski resorts in the United States do not require people to wear helmets, although at Aspen Mountain, since 2003, children 12 and under who participate in ski school have been required to wear them. At Vail, children 14 and under who participate in the ski school are strongly recommended to wear helmets, and must decline their use in writing. According to the ski resort association, the vast majority of children 9 and under wear helmets.
"If people are entrusting their children to our care, we want to ensure that they are protected as best they can be," said Jeff Hanle, spokesman for the Aspen Skiing Company, which operates the area's resorts. Concerning the age requirement, he said: "Kids who grow up skiing with a helmet tend to continue to wear it. As far as mandating it for adults, they have their own informed opinion on the matter, they can make up their mind."
The most common arguments against helmets is that can be cumbersome and restrict vision, and that they give wearers a false sense of security, perhaps encouraging more reckless behavior.
"I'd be surprised if it didn't lead to that," Mr. Shealy said. "But that's not a sufficient reason not to wear one."
Troy Hawks, the spokesman for the National Ski Area Association, said it had adopted this policy: "We highly recommend that folks wear helmets," he said, "but our position is that people should ski and snowboard as if they are not wearing one."
I have a history in my family of blood vessels rupturing or almost rupturing in the brain area. There is a name for this and for the life of me I cannot remember. .
My mother died from this condition and my nephew almost died and does have some affects from the brain surgery. His condition was caught in time, but required brain surgery to correct. My uncle also had surgery recently to fix a bulge in a blood vessel in his head. What happens is there are week spots on the walls of the blood vessels in the brain area. The wall area fails and the interior lining then bulges out through the vein wall. This usually causes severe head aches and is the first sign that you need to get medical attention immediately. If the lining bulge breaks and release blood into you scull/brain area, your done.
Perhaps the slight trauma of a fall caused this condition and could also have been caused by any minor trauma. In fact, you may not need any trauma at all. It was a disaster waiting to happen.
Snowsmith - perhaps you're thinking of an anuerysm?
I have seen countless beginners get going way, way too fast on a bunny slope - because they cant control themselves - and have some very bad wipeouts. Having fallen plenty while skiing and growing up while playing hockey I know its very easy for a "slight" fall on your head to wind up causing severe pain later on. People who sustain sever concussions may not see symptoms for hours. I suspect something like this is what happened here.
I never ski without a helmet. If there is one thing that can come out of this awful tragedy I hope that its a spotlight on how relatively cheap helmets are and that accidents can happen to ANYONE - not just experts or guys skiing the trees.
I used to wonder why rental shops didnt rent out helmets with the rest of their gear. Maybe its too much of a PITA to deal with another layer of inventory, I dont know.
I agree that it must be something else that dislodge a clot.Possibly dehydration,deep vein thrombosis, or another condition.They are performing a autopsy so that might answer some questions. Sounds like the mountain and ski patrol followed all the right protocols.Not sure if a helmet would have help ere. Doesn't seem like a dramatic fall.
I've been wearing a helmet for over 10years and do not feel safe without it. This was important when I was on the woods at Blue Nob and hit some narly ice and slipped and crack my helmet on the ice, You good hear the sound very loud. If I wasn't wearing it I would be dead for sure!
Liberty rents our helmets and requires it for young kids taking lessons. Most do now.
This just in:
The New York City medical examiner's office says actress Natasha Richardson died of blunt impact to the head. Medical examiner spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said the death was ruled an accident. The cause of death was "epidural hematoma due to blunt impact to the head."
I wear a helmet but keep in mind they are only rated up to about 15mph or so...