Accident at Fraser tubing hill injures two ski team members
Sky-Hi Daily News
What could have been a fun night out with friends at the Fraser Tubing Hill became a nightmare when two Middle Park High School students, Jake Anderson and Khyla Burrows, collided while sledding down the icy slope.
Anderson, 17, and Burrows, 16, were both on inner-tubes with their teammates the night of Jan. 3 when they accidentally crashed into each other and knocked heads.
Khyla suffered multiple fractures to her skull, and Jake broke his jaw and pulled a muscle in his shoulder. They were transported in an ambulance to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Denver, according to Grand County EMS.
Both students, who are members of the Winter Park Competition Center’s racing program, are now home from the hospital and doing well, according to their parents.
But they probably won’t be racing again this year, said Jeff Burrows, Khyla’s father and head alpine coach for the competition center.
“It’ll take some time, but she’s excited to be home,” said Jeff, who’s been coaching Khyla for the past two years. “We don’t anticipate any long term effects … She’ll be skiing and competing again. But this year is unlikely due to the severity of her injuries. With the brain, it’s always a bit unknown. You don’t want to rush this one.”
Jeff and his wife Lynn, who live in Fraser, are thankful their daughter and Jake are home again and recovering. But the vision of Khyla the night of the accident is still etched in their minds.
Both teens are described as top alpine ski racers; Khyla has gone to the Junior Olympics for the past five years and won the GS state title with her high school. Jake was a Junior Olympian three years back. Both train almost every day, said Jeff, and hope to race in college or at the national level.
For now, though, both athletes are concentrating on just getting back on their feet.
“It’s terribly frightening. Really scary,” Jeff admitted. “It’ll take a while for the visual things to fade away. When you see your kid in that kind of situation, first you’re scared to death. Then, you’re really mad.”
Piecing together what happened
Marilyn Anderson, Jake’s mother, is currently home in the Winter Park Highlands nursing her s on back to health, along with her husband, Reed. Jake recently had surgery to repair his jaw, and his mouth will be wired shut for three weeks.
“He had a rough night. He’s real uncomfortable,” she said. “We have to feed him through a tube in the back of his throat.”
According to Anderson, the whole ski team went out to the tubing hill that night.
Although the tubing hill is lighted, some sections are still fairly dark; no one knows for sure what happened, she said, but somehow, both teens collided. At first, no one knew Khyla had been hit, Anderson said. Both kids were knocked out, according to witnesses, and since Khyla’s X-rays show multiple fractures, it is believed she hit the ice multiple times. A teammate yelled for someone to call 911, and Grand County EMS arrived at the scene.
Flight for Life was requested to air lift Khyla, but was unavailable due to bad weather, said Mike Stern, deputy chief for Grand County EMS. Although Stern could not divulge any information about the patients’ medical condition, Flight for Life is generally called for critical patients.
Stern said emergency personnel get calls to the tubing hill every winter, but this call was “among the worst.” He admitted in past years, however, there have been incidences where people were paralyzed at the tubing hill.
Stern strongly recommends helmets for every sport.
“We see it continuously in all these different sports. Helmets for any of these sporting events, whether it’s skiing, biking, tubing … it makes a tremendous difference,” Stern said.
Dealing with the anger
Anderson is pushing for the Fraser Tubing Hill to require helmets for users. Jake was diagnosed with brain trauma, and doesn’t remember anything about the accident, she said.
She is also frustrated and angry because she said she has tried contacting the owner of the hill but hasn’t been successful. The night of the accident, no one was there to help, she said.
Rod Rogers, an owner of the tubing hill, did not return phone calls Thursday and earlier in the week denied knowledge of the incident.
“If you could have seen Khyla there, staring into space. Nothing was behind her eyes,” Anderson said. “And then watching Jake in tears looking at his teammate.
That’s the stuff I was so angry about … No one from that hill bothered to call to see if they were OK. No one came to the ambulances.”
“It’s going to be a long road for these kids. But their humor’s still there; they’re trying really hard,” Anderson said. “Everybody’s been praying, and that’s all these kids really need.”
” To reach Stephanie Miller, call (970) 887-3334, ext. 19601 or e-mail email@example.com.
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