10-Year-Old Girl Dies In Skiing Accident, Safety Precautions Being Discussed

CHICAGO (CBS) – Family members are telling CBS 2 more about the little girl who was killed while skiing in Michigan.

She has been identified as 10-year-old Delaney O’Connell from LaGrange.

O’Connell was wearing a helmet, but hit a tree so hard she suffered a fatal brain injury. Now, purple ribbons hang in the girl’s neighborhood as a symbol of morning.

On Facebook, her aunt posted this comment form the girl’s parents and sister:

“We will miss out dear, sweet Delaney every single day.”

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole checked out the precautions one local resort takes to prevent another family from suffering this heartache.

There is a certain exhilaration that comes from hitting the slopes whether on a pair of skis or balancing atop a snowboard.

“I like going down the hill and I even like falling a little,” said Morgan Kelly, of Bartlett.

But not a lot, so as students check in for a day of snow sports at Bartlett’s’ Villa Olivia there are class rules for suiting up.

“Skiing has some inherent risks and hazards,” said Pete Pope, Villa Olivia. “We talk about safety fun and learning, but safety is first.”

All students will be wearing a bib so they can be easily identified. And instructors are dressed in highly visible, red jackets.  Classes must stay together, and all students are required to wear a helmet.

“Just a small fall on a hill, you bounce your head on the snow, it’s best to have a helmet it would make a big difference,” Pope said.

An upcoming study by the Children’s hospital of Colorado concludes wearing a ski helmet does lower the risk of sustaining a serious injury, but it also warns helmets can’t prevent a fatal injury, especially with the frequently changing surfaces and high speeds in snow sports.

“We go over the rules as we put on the equipment,” said Richard Caragol, Shorewood Illinois.

It is why the Caragol family’s precautions can make the ultimate difference.

“We talk about each of the steps as we go down the hill,” Caragol said. “We get to the bottom, we review, then we do it again.”

While there are rules for students, most resorts don’t force visitors to wear helmets on the slopes.  The industry does promote and post a code of responsibility that includes yielding the right of way to people in front of you, and only tackling slopes you know you can handle.

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