Mixed emotions, but a lot of I told you so.

Helmets. Everyone is running around saying you have to wear a helmet. Worse, the people saying this are not helmet manufactures but people who open their mouths before engaging any research or their brain. Worse a celebrity just died re-inflaming the debate by people who just want to kill trees to advertise Viagra and bath soap!

In an article Widow sues over fatal skiing crash
The Rutland Herald reports Killington ski area is being sued over the sale of a helmet. The 44 year old decedent purchased a Giro Omen helmet equipped with a Bluetooth Audio System. He crashed into a tree at Killington Mountain in February of 2008 suffering a fatal head injury.

The allegations state at the time of impact the Bluetooth dislodged and resulted in the skull fracture.

  1. An adult man skiing into a tree, an expert skier and the Bluetooth audio caused the skull fracture? Speed * Mass striking a mostly immovable object equals a couple of ounces where the cause of death?
  2. Helmets won’t save you from dying if you hit a tree. Most helmets are effective at preventing injuries due to 12 mph impacts. Most people ski faster than 12 mph, so there is some benefit. However several studies have shown that skiing with a helmet increases the speed at which you ski by more than 12 mph because of feeling safer. Risk Homeostasis. See A new idea that makes sense in helmets: the Bern Hard Hat, and A helmet manufacture understands the issues.
  3. A lawsuit won’t solve any problems or answer any questions in this case.

As I have said before and will continue to say, it sucks when someone dies. It sucks for the surviving widow and family. It also sucks for the 20 something members of the ski patrol who have to physically deal with the issues. It sucks for the staff that has to answer questions and deal with the fatality. It sucks for everyone. Our condolences go to the family and the resort.

But a lawsuit won’t change anything. People are still going to talk on the cell phones or listen to music and ski…and drive. People are going to ski fast, probably faster if they wear a helmet. People are going to hit trees, fatally if the person is going fast enough or they are inclined to die if they hit a tree.

Wearing a helmet won’t stop you from dying if you hit a tree. Most skier deaths are caused by internal injuries anyway. It takes a lot less force to injury your organs or tear or ascending aorta than to cause a concussion in some cases. Wearing a helmet just makes less of a mess if you hit the tree with your head.

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