Woman recovering after fall at Steamboat Ski Area
January 4, 2012
Steamboat Springs — A 19-year-old Mississippi woman was airlifted to a Denver hospital with serious head injuries after she slid down an icy trail at Steamboat Ski Area and hit a snow gun on New Year's Day.
The woman, identified by Routt County Undersheriff Ray Birch as Laken Wilson, is recovering in the neurological intensive care unit at Denver Health Medical Center, according to a Web page set up in her name at http://www.caringbridge.org. Family members reported that Wilson was flown to Denver because she had suffered a skull fracture.
"She underwent three hours of surgery to remove bone fragments from the left side of her brain and stop the bleeding in her brain," the Web page reads.
According to a Denver Health spokeswoman, Wilson was in fair condition Wednesday evening.
The website stated doctors anticipated she would be transferred soon to a lower-level intensive care unit. She is undergoing speech and physical therapy and is able to stand with help.
"She is really starting to understand what is happening today and is very sad and emotional about everything," the Web page reads.
There are conflicting accounts as to how the accident happened.
According to the website, Wilson was with a group of friends and "came to a slope she felt uncomfortable going down, so she took off her snowboard and started walking down the hill. She then slipped on a patch of ice and slid into the fake snowmaking machine head first."
A report by Routt County Sheriff's Office Cpl. Ryan Adrian tells a different story. His report was based off interviews with the three people Wilson was with.
According to the report, Wilson and three other people had skied earlier in the day but decided to ride the gondola and just hike across the mountain.
At the intersection of the Concentration and Vagabond ski trails, a couple of the hikers lost their footing and began falling down Concentration, a black-diamond trail that had been closed Sunday morning because of icy and dangerous conditions.
"The area where they lost their footing was icy, and all four were wearing either ski boots or snowboard boots while hiking," the report stated.
Ski patrol told Adrian there is no rule against hiking across the mountain during ski season.
"Since the people were simply hiking near the run and not trying to ski on a closed run, there was no criminal violation," the report stated.
Adrian wrote that he believes all four of the hikers were holding onto each other when they fell, but Wilson was the only person hurt. The report does not state how far Wilson slid down Concentration.
Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. officials on Wednesday did not return messages seeking comment.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com