Man, girl killed in Wyoming ski accident had chest injuries

By Laura Zuckerman

SALMON, Idaho (BestGrowthStock) – A 5-year-old girl and 23-year-old man who were killed in a collision on a Wyoming ski slope on Christmas Eve both died from massive chest injuries, coroner’s officials said on Monday.

Craig Shirley, 23, was snowboarding at a high rate of speed Friday afternoon at a ski area south of Casper, Wyoming, when he slammed into Elise Johnson, 5, and her mother, 31-year-old Kelli Johnson, authorities said.

Elise Johnson and Shirley died of blunt force trauma. Kelli Johnson suffered a head injury and was in stable condition at a Casper hospital, Natrona County Coroner Connie Jacobson said.

Jacobson said her research shows a double fatality from a ski collision is rare at best. “I can’t find any literature that shows where an accident between two skiers killed both; this is very unusual,” she said.

Wyoming officials said the Johnsons and Shirley, all of Casper, Wyoming, were experienced skiers, with Kelli Johnson a member of the area’s ski patrol. Elise Johnson was the only one of the three wearing a helmet.

The Johnsons had stopped near the end of an advanced run at Hogadon Ski Area so Kelli Johnson could help her daughter with her skis when Shirley crashed into them, said Lt. Mark Sellers of the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s the first fatality of this magnitude that anyone can remember at Hogadon,” Sellers said.

The double fatality at the modest-sized Hogadon, one of nine ski areas in Wyoming, comes amid an overall decline in serious injuries or deaths at developed ski areas in the United States, according to the National Ski Areas Association.

Roughly 40 people die in accidents at ski resorts every year, or about four people per million skiers and snowboarders, according to a study by the ski association.

The overall rate of reported ski injuries has dropped in half since the early 1970s because of improved equipment, the use of helmets and stepped-up safety campaigns, according to association findings.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Jerry Norton)

Man, girl killed in Wyoming ski accident had chest injuries