Squaw issues helmets to snowmobilers
Squaw Valley USA recently issued more than 100 full-faced helmets for employees who ride snowmobiles on the mountain, Assistant Ski Patrol Director Curtis Cooks said.
The helmets arrived early last week and employees have been wearing them since.
“Everyone who operates a snowmobile at Squaw will be wearing a helmet,” said Cooks.
The helmet plan, which had been in the works for a while, was sped up by last month’s snowmobile accident involving Squaw Valley employees, Cooks said.
The accident claimed the life of Squaw Valley employee and Truckee resident Andrew Miller. In the accident, Miller was thrown from a vehicle that was traveling uphill, as his driver swerved out of the way to avoid a head-on collision with another vehicle traveling downhill. Miller was struck on the head by the downhill vehicle that was also carrying two Squaw Valley employees.
“The accident sped up what we had already planned,” said Cooks.
Squaw Valley has had calls from other ski areas that want to implement the plan as well, said Cooks.
The new helmets are full-faced helmets that carry the right qualifications for motor vehicle use. They are approved by the Snell Foundation, which gives the highest approval rating a helmet can have, said Cooks.
Two employees interviewed by the California Highway Patrol at the scene of the Feb. 12 accident gave preliminary statements that the uphill vehicle was traveling 50 mph.
As the investigation continued, the employees said their initial speed estimate was wrong, and that the uphill snowmobile was going much slower.
Sgt. Hal Koencke said the revised statement of the two employees was confirmed when CHP officials tested Squaw Valley snowmobiles on the resort’s terrain.
According to the CHP, the uphill snowmobile could not have been going much faster than 30 to 35 mph.
Koencke also said that the CHP is close to the end of the investigation.
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