Fatal ski accident sparks new safety group
More than a year after his daughter died in an accident at Alpine Meadows ski resort, Bay Area doctor Dan Gregorie is launching a state ski and snowboard safety organization.
The absence of uniform ski and snowboard safety guidelines spurred Gregorie to found the California Ski and Snowboard Safety Organization to educate the public on ski risks, monitor safety issues, and inform lawmakers on safety practices in other states, according to the organization’s Web site. Unlike many states, California has no safety statute, and the ski industry has no uniform safety code, according to the new group.
Gregorie was unavailable for comment before a news conference Monday in Sacramento announcing the new organization. But the accident that led him to form it occurred last February at Alpine Meadows.
Gregorie’s 24-year-old daughter, Jessica, was trudging along the northern ski boundary at Alpine Meadows Ski Resort’s Beaver Bowl when she dropped her snowboard over the icy precipice. When the Bay Area woman tried to retrieve it, she slipped and plunged 200 feet to her death down a series of steep embankments.
A news release from the new ski safety organization said the area where Jessica Gregorie fell did not have fences or warning signs in place, and no signs or fences were placed there after the accident.
The safety organization is not affiliated with the California Ski Industry Association, but the industry association’s executive director, Bob Roberts, said his organization works with the U.S. Forest Service on ensuring skier and snowboarder safety.
“In principle, anyone who can help us with safety – more power to them,” Roberts said.
Officials at Alpine Meadows said they were not familiar with Gregorie’s new organization but said safety is the resort’s top priority.
“We support safety initiatives and have an extensive safety program,” said public-relations manager Rachael Woods. “We work really closely with the National Ski Areas Association (in regards to) safety.”
The National Ski Areas Association is a trade group of ski area owners and operators. The association represents 332 Alpine resorts in the United States.
Officials with Heavenly Mountain Resort on Monday referred questions to the CSIA or National Ski Areas Association.
At Kirkwood Mountain Resort, spokesman Daniel Pistoresi said the resort encourages efforts to improve safety on the slopes and would be open to working with the new group. Kirkwood already works with the U.S. Forest Service, CSIA and NSAA on safety issues.
“We take safety extremely seriously,” Pistoresi said.
– Tribune City Editor Elaine Goodman contributed to this report.
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