Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Coroner calls for helmets on skifields

Skiers and snowboarders at Happy Valley at the Whakapapa ski field on Mt Ruapehu. File photo / Christine Cornege
Skiers and snowboarders at Happy Valley at the Whakapapa ski field on Mt Ruapehu. File photo / Christine Cornege

Skiers and snowboarders should consider wearing helmets while on the skifields after a student from Kazakhstan died from a fall on Mt Ruapehu, a coroner says.

Dastan Abzhanov died on July 13 this year from a severe head injury he suffered while snowboarding on the Whakapapa ski field.

He was not wearing a helmet and, in an inquest ruling, Coroner Tim Scott said, while he did not go so far as to recommend compulsory helmet use, "it might be a good idea for participants to at least think about doing so".

"It is impossible to say if the head injury suffered by Dastan could have been avoided.

"Possibly it could have been had he been wearing a ski or snowboarder helmet," Coroner Scott said.

The 18-year-old had been studying engineering at Auckland University.

At the time of the accident, Mr Abzhanov was snowboarding in an area known as the Schuss about 1.30pm on July 12.

He fell after "negotiating the slope or while on the flat portion of this area", Coroner Scott said. No witnesses to the fall were found.

After the incident, Mr Abzhanov was unconscious but alive, and was flown to Waikato Hospital where he died the following day.

Mr Abzhanov was a Muslim and his family were opposed to a post mortem examination on religious grounds, which was agreed to.

A hospital doctor determined the cause of his death was from an acute subdural haematoma.

Coroner Scott said if a post mortem examination had been performed, Mr Abzhanov's blood would have been screened for alcohol and drugs.

"I am however, satisfied that as a Muslim, it would have been highly unlikely that Dastan would have taken either alcohol or common drugs and I therefore take the position that on the balance of probabilities he did not."

He said falls on the ski field were an "occupational hazard" that could happen with skiers and snowboarders of all levels of capability.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a5 at 29 Jul 2014 07:34:03 Processing Time: 195ms