State Senate approves Snowmobile safety bill
A year and a half after a Bay Area woman was killed during a tour-guided snowmobile excursion in El Dorado County, a snowmobile safety bill passed the Senate last week and is now off to the governor.
AB 1818 will require snowmobile rental companies to have guides who are CPR-certified and provide consumers with basic first aid and survival equipment such as a shovel and flashlight.
The legislation “is now just one signature away from becoming law and helping to prevent another tragic loss of life,” said Speaker Pro Tem Leland Yee, author of the bill. “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.”
The vote on the Senate floor was 23-12, with Rico Oller, R-San Andreas, voting against it. On the Assembly side, which passed in spring, Assemblyman Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City, was absent and did not vote on the bill.
Shaylin Lepper, 21 at the time, 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.
In May, 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.
And Pete Conaty, lobbyist for the California Off-Road Vehicle Association said requiring safety equipment and CPR training for guides makes good sense.
“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,” Conaty said.