Parents clarify details of lift accident
BRECKENRIDGE – A 10-year-old boy who fell 30 feet from a chairlift at Breckenridge Ski Resort Friday spent the weekend in a Denver hospital for internal injuries and a broken wrist. He was released from the hospital Monday.
Highlands Ranch resident Andrea Monday was snowboarding with her son, Shaun, at Breckenridge Friday when the accident happened. The two were riding the Rocky Mountain Chair – a four-person chairlift – with two skiers and were preparing to unload when Shaun fell off the chair.
“We were just getting ready to disembark, and he moved, and he just slipped,” Monday said. “He just fell right off the lift. We had pulled the lift bar up, preparing to get off.”
Breckenridge officials estimated Shaun fell 25 to 30 feet to the ground below.
“It was pretty terrifying,” Monday said about watching her son fall from the lift. “It was really surreal. He landed on his head.”
Shaun was having difficulty breathing when his mother reached him. Ski patrol arrived within minutes, Monday said, and took the boy to Breckenridge Medical Center for treatment. Once there, the doctors determined Shaun had sustained potentially life-
threatening injuries, she said, and an ambulance took them to Swedish Medical Center in Denver.
Shaun was in critical care until Saturday evening, Monday said. He sustained a lacerated spleen, bruised lungs and a broken wrist. His parents and doctors believe Shaun was spared additional head injuries because he was wearing a helmet, she said.
“I know that the helmet saved him from some head trauma, and his injuries could have been much worse,” Monday said. “He landed on the side of his head. His face is scratched up, (and) his eye is bruised.”
Shaun likely will have to recuperate at home for another week or two before returning to school and will have to restrict his activity for about six weeks to protect his spleen and lungs, said his father, Paul.
According to Andrea Monday, details of the incident varied among the various media outlets that covered the story. One report said Shaun had been skiing with a friend and implied he was fooling around when he fell off the lift, thereby causing the accident, she said.
“I know that we were on the lift properly,” she said. “I know we were following the rules and all the important stuff. He wasn’t fooling around. I really think this was just a freak accident.”
The boy’s mother doesn’t place any blame for the accident on the ski resort, she said, but is disappointed with the information the resort distributed to the media.
“We’re not upset with Breckenridge,” she said. “I just really wish they would have called before they made a statement.”
On Friday, Breckenridge spokeswoman Dawn Doty told the Summit Daily News the boy had not been seriously injured.
“My only disappointment was (that she said) he wasn’t seriously injured when he really was,” Andrea Monday said. “She shouldn’t have made a statement when she didn’t know. They have our phone number from our ski report. She could have called to see if he was OK.”
On Monday, Doty offered her apologies to the family and the media for mischaracterizing the boy’s injuries, “but more so, to the young boy’s mom,” she said. “She’s had enough to deal with.”
“I just wanted to get the story straight and let people know how important helmets are,” Monday said, adding that she saw two men with head injuries while they were at the Breckenridge Medical Center.
“Helmets are so important,” she said.
Though his helmet likely saved him from head injury, Shaun found the accident traumatic enough that he doesn’t want to snowboard again, his mother said. But the Mondays said they hope to have their son back on the slopes by the end of the season – with a new helmet and goggles.
“I already told him, you fall off the horse, you get back on,” Andrea Monday said. “I think, after the memory wears off a little bit, he’ll go.”
Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or email@example.com
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