Snowboarder critically injured in Kirkwood accident |

Snowboarder critically injured in Kirkwood accident

Nicole Meoli

With the words “Let Seth Ride” printed on all Kirkwood Ski Resort lift tickets, employees, friends and family sit on pins and needles while Seth Levinger fights for his life.

On Monday, the 22-year-old Kirkwood relief lift operator sustained major head injuries in a snowboarding accident involving a tree. He reportedly has little chance of survival.

Levinger spent his day off Monday snowboarding. According to friends, Levinger was cutting through tree lines on a fairly easy course when they later noticed his absence.

Levinger was not discovered until a skier traveling on the lift noticed him motionless against a tree that same day. The skier alerted ski patrol once she reached the top of the mountain and was the first at Levinger’s side.

He was flown to Washoe Medical Center in Reno where he underwent surgery to remove damaged brain tissue, according to Mandi Winnick, a friend of Levinger.

After the surgery, Levinger slipped into a coma. A respirator now keeps him alive.

“His body is failing, but his heart is flying high,” said Banana Levinger, Seth’s father, who resides in Point Reyes, Calif.

Despite his failing body and 5 percent chance of survival, Levinger and his girlfriend, Sasha, were married at bedside. The day after the accident, Sasha learned she was pregnant.

“He is just a really good guy,” Winnick said. “No one would ever say anything bad about Seth.”

A sea of supporters, both family and friends in the waiting area, was “amazing,” according to Carry Garcia of Washoe Medical Center.

“This accident has affected everyone around Seth,” said Kevin Brown, a co-worker. “We all will look more carefully at wearing helmets. A helmet is a really good idea.”

Since Levinger’s accident, Kirkwood received a flood of phone calls inquiring about helmets on the mountain. According to Lindy Niemann of Kirkwood, a meeting about helmets took place Thursday night.

“I believe Seth’s accident will make a change around here,” Niemann said. “We are going to jump on the helmet issue while it has momentum.”

It is hoped that Levinger will gain momentum as well. According to Brown, however, doctors speculate Levinger most likely will not have mobility even if he does recover.

Due to the unsteadiness of the Levinger’s condition, Winnick set up a trust fund for the Levinger family. Donations can be sent to:

Monica Pette, P.O. Box 1, Kirkwood, Calif. 95464.

The Kirkwood General Store is also raising money for the Levingers.

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