Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Steamboat Springs My son Jared planned his trip to Colorado for months. He was going to visit his good friend from Auburn, Mass., who had moved there and do some snowboarding on world-famous mountains.
He practiced for weeks here in Massachusetts. He bought a season pass to Wachusett Mountain, a large ski resort in our area. He would go after work and snowboard for hours, coming home late and tired. He was getting ready.
We saw a story in the news about how someone was killed in an avalanche. We were concerned and talked about it. "Please be aware of this danger Jared, see what can happen?"
I wish we knew about tree wells. We would have talked about them with him. Why didn't the ski resort warn him? "Tree wells" were a phenomenon Jared knew nothing about. This winter, Colorado had record snowfall. This would make the tree well occurrence more dangerous than ever in recent years. This, I think, is proven now by two deaths this winter because of tree wells.
Jared was a sensible kid. He wasn't reckless. He listened. He was old enough to be responsible for his safety, but he needed to know what other hidden dangers were there to look out for. Tree wells are not something that happen here on Wachusett Mountain very often, if ever. He had been practicing on "manmade" snow. We have icy ski conditions out here. Do people from Colorado know about icy conditions - when the trail is so hard and packed and cut into that you tend to go toward the outside of the path, where the snow is softer?
I read a comment on the Internet, on the story about my son's accident, where someone said that "the family would probably divert from personal responsibility in favor of some greater but irrelevant public good."
What more responsibility may Jared have taken? He was cautious and mature. He had a helmet on, and he was not alone. He went on the trip of his lifetime, practiced and ready. One fact remains that will haunt my family forever. We know that he did not have the knowledge that was necessary to keep him safe around tree wells.
If we saved just one other person with this education, do you really think that this would be irrelevant? What if that person were your son?
I would like to offer a constructive idea to ski resorts in Colorado. Maybe some sort of "out-of-state-visitor package" that could be distributed to your patrons that come from other places, states that are geographically and climatically different than Colorado.
Because sometimes, safety, common sense and rules are still not enough when there is a naÃive ignorance about ones surroundings. The education should come from the people collecting the money for the ticket.
Pamela Daniel, mother of Jared Daniel, killed in Steamboat Springs on Jan. 25, 2008