The pond-skim is an end of season ritual at many resorts across the country, a fun way to celebrate the end of another season. But for one entrant at Snow King Mountain, WY his participation in the event had an everlasting effect on the rest of his life, caused by injuries sustained during his skim attempt.
The teenager has permanent injuries from an accident he was in during the pond skim event in March 2017, according to a complaint filed by his parents. Doug and Elizabeth Doyle, through their attorney, Jerry Bosch, claim Snow King was negligent, and a recent mediation between the parties was unsuccessful.
In an online hearing in Teton County District Court last week, attorneys for ‘WDD’, now named as Wyatt Doyle as he is no longer a minor, and attorneys for Snow King disagreed on the definition of a “rowdy train” and the level of involvement Snow King had in the pond skim event. Snow King has not held a pond skim event since.
The complaint filed against Snow King Holdings LLC claims their son “WDD” was severely and permanently injured as a result of the condition of the defendant’s premises and defendant’s negligence in designing, creating and conducting a “pond skim” event. The boy and some other teenagers skied across a pool of water at the base of the mountain and one of the other skier’s edges cut Doyle’s leg. Video of the accident shows one of the teen’s friends skiing over him in the pool, and the water becomes stained with blood.
“WDD suffers significant and life-changing injuries including permanent nerve damage that results in what is commonly referred to as drop-foot,” Bosch wrote in the complaint.
In the complaint, the plaintiffs say the accident happened on land under the control of Snow King through a lease agreement with the town of Jackson. Snow King argues that it isn’t liable for the injury, and that pond skimming is an inherently high-risk activity.
“There are no warning signs about the risk of undertaking this activity,” the complaint states. “Specifically, there are no warnings about the dangers of more than one person attempting to pond skim at the same time. Defendants built the pond and then simply allowed anyone to use it as they saw fit without control or warning.”
The complaint says the ski blade cut through Doyle’s skin, blood vessels, tendons, and nerves. The plaintiffs have yet to indicate how much they’ll seek in damages if the case moves past the liability stage, but it’s more than $50,000.
The original complaint was filed before Wyoming’s new Skier Safety Act went into effect, which is designed to protect ski areas from such lawsuits. Judge Timothy Day recommends a Fall trial, with discovery deadlines in July.
Snow King Mountain is a ski area and hotel in Jackson, Wyoming. “The King” is Jackson’s original 1936 ski hill, located on the southeast edge of the city. It was the first ski area in the state of Wyoming. Locals sometimes refer to Snow King as “The Town Hill.” The ski area offers three-hour and night skiing.