Breckenridge: Brain-dead Okla. Sooner remembered as good friend
January 9, 2009
A 22-year-old snowboarder and senior at the University of Oklahoma was declared brain-dead Wednesday night after an accident at Breckenridge Ski Resort.
William “Billy” Khourie III, from Elk City, Okla., suffered a fatal head injury when he struck a wooden post early Tuesday afternoon at the bottom of Frosty’s Freeway, an advanced-intermediate trail.
The injury put him in grave condition at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood.
Khourie is remembered as an honor student and a good friend with a passion for athletics and OU.
Dave Foster, head football coach at Elk City High School, said Khourie was a great athlete who cared for his teammates and appreciated his roots.
“This one’s hit this community pretty hard, because everyone’s realized what we’re missing out on. But we cherished the time with Billy, too,” he said.
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He said Khourie played running back and outside linebacker and also ran track. He’s immortalized in the weight room as part of the Champions’ Club, a recognition given to athletes who lift five times their body weight at three exercises ” parallel squat, bench press and hang clean.
“We’ve got a list up on the wall of the weight room of the kids who’ve ever made it,” Foster said. “I walked by it today, and I knew Billy was up there, I just wanted to see where he was at. That’s a testament to what that kid’s done.”
He said years will sometimes pass without new members.
“That’s a commitment that takes three to four years for a kid to be able to make it,” Foster said.
He said that on the one-day, 36.5-mile hike the players do each year, Khourie was always in front.
“He was always carrying backpacks the underclassmen couldn’t carry,” he said. “He’d take his and throw theirs on his other shoulder.”
When Khourie visited home from college, he “went out of his way to see former coaches and teachers, family members, people who meant a lot to him.”
Sheryl Kimball, the student-council advisor at Elk City High School, said he left a big impression.
“It’s just a tragedy,” she said. “He was one of those kids that you love to make smile ” easy to bring a smile to his face.”
Khourie was often “kind of quiet, so you really had to listen to what he said,” but he liked to joke, Kimball said.
“He was sensitive to others ” I don’t know that he would admit that,” she said. “But I know he had some really good friends, good buddies, and he was well-respected by the other kids.”
Khourie served as officer on the student council, first as secretary, then as vice president. He graduated in 2005, ranked sixth in a class of 136, according to his resume posted on the OU student website.
“I love snowboarding, the lake, fishing, and mostly all sports. Overall, I’m a pretty easy-going guy that likes to have a good time,” he wrote on his personal page on the website.
The page features a picture of a snowboarder hucking over some tall pines. It mentions that he misses his friends and family back home but loves OU.
Cindy Wood, who taught Khourie in advanced-placement English, said he had several friends who traveled to Denver after the accident.
“Quite a few of his friends ” after they found out ” drove up to be with him. He was kind, once you knew him, you were a friend for life,” she said.
As a high school student Khourie was “academically-inclined but still enjoyed being a boy,” Wood said.
He was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and the Energy Management Student Association at OU. He was a business major, with an emphasis in energy management.
Khourie’s resume also includes experience as a Little League umpire and lifeguard at the Elk City Aquatic Center.
The snowboarding accident occurred about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Ski patrol received the call about
1 p.m., and responded immediately, according to the resort.
Responders provided basic life support and brought Khourie to Breckenridge Medical Center before he was transferred by ambulance to the hospital.
He was not wearing a helmet, according to hospital spokeswoman Julie Lonborg.
Numerous media reports Thursday declared Khourie dead; however, Summit County Coroner Joanne Richardson said he remained on life support to donate his organs.