Snowmobile bill zooms though state Assembly |

Snowmobile bill zooms though state Assembly

Jeff Munson

Lifesaving snowmobile safety legislation is one step closer to becoming law.

AB 1818 passed the Assembly on Thursday with a bipartisan 65-9 vote and will now head to the Senate where it is expected to pass. California Assemblyman Pro Tem Speaker Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, is the bill’s sponsor.

The legislation was introduced earlier this year after a Bay Area woman was killed during a tour-guided snowmobile excursion in El Dorado County.

Shaylin Lepper, who was 21, was killed near Strawberry Jan. 4, 2003, after the rented snowmobile she was riding plunged 565 feet down an embankment, leaving her tour guides stranded without first aid equipment, shovels, flashlight or CPR training.

“I am proud that the Assembly so swiftly passed AB 1818, a bill that could have saved a life had it been in place last year,” Yee said Thursday from Sacramento. “Regrettably, there are still some snowmobile rental companies that senselessly do not have in place basic first aid equipment or provide CPR training for their guides.”

Last month, Lepper’s father, Jim, testified in front of the Judiciary Committee that by the time the guides found Shaylin in the night’s darkness, she was buried in snow.

“There was no requirement for the snowmobiles to have rescue shovels, so they had to dig by hand to free her,” Lepper told the committee. “The guides had no experience with CPR and thus, my family is paying the price every day with the loss of my daughter.”

The legislation has industry backing. Terry McHale, a lobbyist for the California-Nevada Snowmobile Association, said the bill is reasonable, appropriate and carries with it an expectation that consumers are entitled to when they ride with snowmobile outfits.

“This tragic loss, which precipitated the legislation, is reason for all of us to pause and consider ways to make snowmobiling an even safer recreational activity,” McHale said.

“Requiring companies that rent snowmobiles to train their guides in CPR and to outfit their snowmobiles with necessary safety equipment makes good sense,” said Pete Conaty, lobbyist for the California Off-Road Vehicle Association. “Safe and responsible off-road recreation is a goal of our organization and as such we support Assemblyman Yee’s efforts to improve the safety of those who snowmobile.”

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