Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Coroner calls for helmets on ski slopes

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A coroner has recommended that all skiers and snowboarders wear helmets following a man's death on a Canterbury skifield last year.

In his finding, released today, Wellington coroner Richard McElrea found that Australian tourist Timothy James Stone, 31, died after slipping up to 200 metres down a steep, snow-covered slope into a stream bed near the Mt Cheesman ski area in the Craigieburn Range.

He and a group of 11 other Australians headed to the slopes on August 7, 2011, but after one run most of the group decided to try to get a refund because the snow was too icy.

But Mr Stone and two other men, Tod Mason and Nathaneal Jamieson, decided to try an unpatrolled area in the upper reaches of the Tarn Basin.

The trio snowboarded until they reached a tree line and Mr Stone, who was ahead of the other two, removed his snowboard and tried to walk across a south-facing slope.

He accidently slid between 100m and 200m down the 40-45 degree slope, through a small thicket of trees and into an open stream bed.

His two companions rushed over and found him still breathing but with a massive head wound.

Life support was continued until his parents arrived from Australia when it was switched off. He died two days after the accident.

Coroner McElrea recommended that the Mountain Safety Council and the Mt Cheesman Ski Club actively encouraged ski areas in New Zealand to promote the use of protective helmets by all skiers and snowboarders.

He suggested they used website and signs to get the message across, and avoided using promotional images of skiers and snowboarders who were not wearing helmets.

He also recommended that the New Zealand Ski Instructors Alliance promoted awareness of snowboard limitations in back-country use and in steep terrain with firm snow. Skiers and snowboarders had to be capable of basic self-arrest techniques, he added.

apnz mt cr

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a5 at 25 Jul 2014 12:08:30 Processing Time: 739ms