Tragedy On The Slopes

   By drodriguez  Mar 23, 2009

Last week we were reminded of how fragile life can be.  Stage and screen actress Natasha Richardson died having suffered from head injuries related to a fall on a beginner ski slope in Canada.  She was a wife and a mother of two sons.   Ms. Richardson was just 45 years old.

Daughter to legendary actress Vanessa Redgrave, grandchild of premier British stage actor Sir Michael Redgrave and wife of award winning actor Liam Neeson Ms. Richardson possessed a rare combination of genuine acting ability and inherited thespian royalty status.   Lights dimmed on Broadway before its 8 p.m. performances on Thursday in her memory.

What makes Ms. Richardson's death so hard to comprehend is that conventional wisdom tells us beginner slopes, or "bunny hills" are safe. Moreover, we wonder how a seemingly minor accident could have ended so tragically. 

The high profile, tragic death of Ms. Richardson has left some to question if laws should be put in place to force people to wear helmets when skiing.  It was just 11 years ago that both singer-turned-politician Sonny Bono and Michael Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy were killed in skiing accidents.  Both were not wearing helmets.
Although the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) promotes helmet usage it does not push for helmet laws.  A USA Today article reported "sports-injury experts say ski helmets cut the rate of head injuries by 30% to 50% ? and are particularly valuable when participants fall and suffer a glancing blow to the head on hard-packed snow."  The NSAA reported that that helmet usage is up by about 13 percent from the 2002 and 2003 where only 25 percent of skiers wore helmets to last winter which saw some 43 percent of skiers donning helmets.

Would hearing a story like this make you more apt to wear a helmet while participating in winter sports?

Do you think that, in light of Natasha Richardson's death, helmet laws should be put in place and enforced on ski slopes?

Make a Comment

fpeters by fpeters | brooklyn, NY
Aug 18, 2009

this was the definition of a tragedy. This just shows that we need to live like there's no tomorrow. Life can be taken from us in such a sudden, and if it does we can only hope that we changed at least one life in our time spent on earth.cry never, laugh often, forgive always...R.I.P Natasha R. you will be missed

lmeade by lmeade | Meriden, KS
Aug 06, 2009

What happened to Natasha Richardson is definitely a tragedy. Her decision to not go and get checked out in the emergency room regarding her head injury contributed to her death. I do believe wearing a helmet can save lives and I wear a helmet during certain sporting activities. However, it would be very difficult and almost impossible to enforce people to wear helmets during skiing and/or other sporting activites. I feel it's very important to show ads regarding immediately going to the emergency room following any accident involving head trauma which might increase the number of survival rates regarding this type of injury.

chloee by chloee | mt carroll, IL
May 29, 2009

helmets should be worn in any sport, because you just never know. from t-ball to riding motorcycle, even skiing, why wouldn't you want to play it safe?

Litesugar by Litesugar | SAINT CHARLES, MO
May 19, 2009

I would definitely wear a helmet after hearing about Ms. Richardson's story and those Mr. Bono and Mr. Kennedy. However, I don't think that a law should be passed to force adults to wear helmets if they do not want to do so. This is the land of the free and I believe that it should be a person's decision on whether a helmet is used or not.

suoliu by suoliu | WORCESTER, MA
May 17, 2009

I was totally devastated when I learned of Natasha Richardson's death. She was one of my favorite actresses. And to die in a skiing accident seems so unremarkable and senseless. I didn't even realize until now that there are helmets available! I have never gone skiing before and when you look at vacation photos of people on the slopes, you rarely ever see anyone wearing a helmet. Helmets and other proper sports gear should be enforced for all sports activities whether it's skateboarding, bicycling, roller blading etc.

colie2k by colie2k | Owasso, OK
May 15, 2009

I understand wearing protective gear but just can't get away from the fact that we never did as I was growing up. That's not to say we shouldn't now I just have a hard time feeling adamant about it. But I am sure I would if tragedy struck my family.

babybrooke54 by babybrooke54 | mansfield, MA
May 08, 2009

people should really waer helmets and be safe

Dalton by Dalton | Chatsworth, GA
Apr 26, 2009

Such a senseless tragedy that possibly could have been prevented by wearing a protective helmet. We are so used to making our children wear helmets when riding their bikes, skateboarding, etc. - parents should be just a diligent about their safety as well.

kimryan131 by kimryan131 | Easthampton, MA
Apr 23, 2009

I belive that wearning proper protective gear during any sport is extremely important and I believe everyone should be deligient in doing so. We always tell our children to, why do we not do so for ourselves?

pattiusaccc by pattiusaccc | sherman oaks, CA
Apr 16, 2009

I agree that protective gear is essencial to any sport. However, I don't agree that it should be imposed. People need to be more responsible for their own good and I don't think it is right to impose anything on anyone unless it poses a threat to somebody who has nothing to do wiht your own problems!

edgychick by edgychick | Barrigada, OU
Apr 14, 2009

Those deaths are such tragedies. However, there are also people who survive sport related head injuries whose lives, and the lives of their families, will never be the same. It's important to wear proper safety equipment in sports tonot only reduce the risk of death from head injuries, but also to reduce the risk of permanent injury that may result in the injured person needing round the clock care for the rest of their life.

melhunt by melhunt | Walnut Creek, CA
Apr 08, 2009

I grew up skiing and no one ever wore helmets 30 years ago-of course no one was snowboarding back then either, which I think makes the slopes more dangerous these days....sounds like this injury was about hitting just the right spot at just the right moment-a fluke....I am not against helmets, but there are always risks with active sports-just be son got hit with a baseball in the face under his eye, and we immediately went to the emergency, and they immediately did a CT scan-just to be safe.

pacpaca by pacpaca | Englewood, TN
Apr 08, 2009

I horseback ride and I wear a helmet religiously. I know of too many people who were killed or permantly brain damaged because they chose not to wear one. All it takes is one accident and in a matter of seconds, your life is changed forever. Anytime there is a risk of a head injury, a person is a fool not to wear one, because brain injury is irreversable. And yet, I can't convince my husband or friends to wear one. Perhaps they are afraid of the message it would send to others abour their riding skills, but skills have nothing to do with it. And accident can happen to anyone, any time. I think any privately owned sporting opperation has a right to demand that particpants wear a helmet. Otherwise, I think teaching the hazards and free choice are better than a law.

Missdelightful by Missdelightful | Parsippany, NJ
Apr 08, 2009

I feel that Helmets are important in any activity that has the risk of possibly injuring your body. Its important for our children to be safe as well as ourselves. It should not matter if it looks cool or not its about safety. I go 4 wheelin often and one time I got thrown off my ATV I hit my head on a rock if I was not wearing a helmet who knows where I would be today. Helmets save lives!

ann818marie by ann818marie | MOUNT LAUREL, NJ
Apr 07, 2009

I just learned how to ski this past winter. I fell many many many many times without wearing a helmet. When you learn to ski, you learn to fall without hitting your head. God gave us all padding in our rears for a reason! I heard that when she fell, the instructors had medics check her out and she refused treatment. I think that if they were concerned enough to have her checked out she shouldn't have refused treatment. That may have meant the difference between life or death. Famous or not a family lost a loved one and this is a tragic situation. God bless her family.