Friends and family of a British woman who passed away after a collision with a snowboarder at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort want the resort’s safety practices reviewed and the RCMP to launch a full criminal probe of the incident.
On February 9, 2016, 55-year-old Anne Woods of Crawley, West Sussex, England was skiing as part of a group of eight, including her husband Terry, at the resort near Golden, B.C. Woods reached the end of a green run and entered a ski slow zone where she was struck by a snowboarder.
According to Shaun Moloney, one of the members of the ski group who has been asked to speak on behalf of the Woods family, Terry Woods “witnessed someone coming very fast in a blur across his vision who then hit Anne”.
“Her body was flung forward and the force of that caused both her shoulder blades to be broken and for her spinal cord to snap,” said Moloney of the medical assessment of Anne Woods’ injuries.
Terry Woods says his wife lost consciousness at the moment of impact.
Anne Woods was airlifted to the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary by a STARS Air Ambulance crew. Woods’ life support was removed two days later and she succumbed to her injuries.
The 26-year-old snowboarder, a visitor from Mexico, allegedly told resort officials and police that he was travelling at a moderate speed and did not see Anne as he had crested a ridge. Moloney says the snowboarder’s explanation contradicts the evidence.
“We believe he was going fast and did jump,” said Moloney. “How do you explain the medical evidence and degree of injuries that indicate high speed?”
“Someone coming for a nice holiday in Canada can be wiped out through the thoughtlessness of someone else. It’s just so shocking and it makes me angry.”
An RCMP investigation into the crash found no evidence of a crime and the case was closed. Investigators did not interview or collect a witness statement from Terry Woods and the snowboarder has reportedly returned to Mexico.
“We were astounded to be told there was no criminal matter to be investigated,” said Moloney. “(The police) statement to us was once you’ve bought the ticket then you’ve implicitly accepted the inherent risk associated with skiing and therefore, if you’re injured or, in this case, killed when undertaking the activity, you have no recourse for criminal law.”
“That seemed astoundingly odd to us.”
Matt Mosteller of Resorts of the Canadian Rockies issued the following statement to CTV Calgary outlining Kicking Horse Mountain Resort’s commitment to safety:
“We have a significant protocol that our team follows specifically around creating a safe skiing and riding environment,” said Mosteller in the statement to CTV Calgary. “From signage when you arrive, at the ticket window before you even board a lift, and then once on the mountain. There is an array of highly visual signage to alert guests and remind guests.”
Terry Woods hopes the crash that stole his wife from him will serve as a wake-up call to the dangers of reckless behaviour on the slopes.
“I can only hope that skiers and rider will reflect on how they behave on the slopes,” said Woods. “The accident would not have happened if the man who collided with my wife had been mindful.”
Anne Woods had recently returned to skiing after a decade long battle with debilitating rheumatoid arthritis. Anne and Terry Woods were nearing the end of their three week vacation in the Canadian Rockies which had included stops in Banff and Lake Louise.
Terry Woods tells CTV Calgary he hopes a criminal investigation will result in the snowboarder returning to Canada to face charges related to negligence or manslaughter.