British Columbia, Canada
The Canadian Broadcast Cooperation reported Monday that the widow of a backcountry skier, who died on a heli-ski tour in 2009, will be suing her late husbands “ski buddy”.
To be clear: though the incident occurred in B.C. Canada, the Plaintiff is lives in the United States of America, the defendant lives in the United Kingdom.
Mark Kennedy died after falling into a tree well while on a guided ski trip in Revelstoke, B.C. Adrian Coe, a tourist visiting from the United Kingdom was partnered with Kennedy so they could keep watch for each other and report to the guide if either went missing or had any trouble.
Kennedy’s wife Elizabeth believes that Coe failed to keep watch over her husband and is now suing for “damages for loss of financial support of the deceased”.
Coe believes he did nothing wrong and reported the incident to the guide as soon as he noticed Kennedy had gone missing. Court documents stated that partners were intended to watch each other for “the purpose of skiing forested portions”. The incident occurred in the alpine where trees were far between and deeply buried.
Kennedy, a trail lawyer from Colorado, left behind half of the contents of his will to Elizabeth amounting to about 18 million dollars.
Tree well accidents account for approximately 20 percent of all ski and snowboard deaths.
From a skier’s perspective, every death in the field should be treated as a learning experience. Every death is a tragedy that we must build on and use what we learned to be safer. In this case, we have to remember that communication is key.
We all ski at our own risk and to believe that anyone is more accountable for our own safety than ourselves is a poor evaluation. Create a good bond with anyone you will be going out into the backcountry with, participate in any decision making, and always communicate as much as you can.
This lawsuit does nothing to build a stronger community or promote safety in the sport. Instead it could result in more stringent regulations that make backcountry skiing or snowboarding more complicated and put more restrictions on the companies which bring us to ski the best zones in the world.
Read the plaintiffs whole Notice of Civil Claim here.