Snowmaker Killed after Sliding off an Icy Trail and Striking a Tree

New York Case Report: 12NY001

The following report is the product of our Cooperative State partner and is presented here in its original unedited form from the state. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


In January 2012, a 41 year-old male snowmaker (victim) at a ski resort suffered fatal injuries after slipping off a ski trail and striking a tree. On the day of the incident, the victim was assigned to work on an expert-rated ski run with a partner to connect the snow guns with water and compressed air. Both workers wore hard hats without chin straps, ear muffs and boots with microspikes. Neither of them carried a radio. At approximately 9 AM, the victim hooked up the last snow gun on the run and started walking down a lower trail (also expert rated) to get to a lift station. The lower trail was icy and not groomed. The partner took the lead traversing to the skiers left side that was less steep and then started descending. He was approximately 30 feet down the trail when he heard the victim calling for help. He turned around and saw the victim sliding down the middle of the trail in a seated position. The victim was trying to stop with his hands and feet but could not. As he was gaining speed, he slid past the partner towards the steeper side (at skiers-right) of the trail and into a wooded area (see Photo 1 for the section of the trail where the victim slid off). The partner quickly descended to reach the victim who was unconscious next to the base of a clump of trees. The partner then immediately walked down the trail to the lift station to use a phone to call the ski patrol. The ski patrol rescue team descended from the summit lodge and arrived on scene about 5 minutes after receiving the call. The rescuers extricated the victim and performed CPR while transporting him in a toboggan to the base area first aid station where the victim was pronounced dead by a coroner.

Snowmaker Killed after Sliding off an Icy Trail and Striking a Treepdf icon [PDF 269 KB]

Page last reviewed: November 18, 2015