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Fatality at Burke Mountain

drjeff

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Snowmakers are some of the most directly unappreciated employees at most any ski area. We all seem to love the fruits of their labor, but how many of us have actually stopped by the side of a trail when we see them and say "thank you" to them?

The conditions they work in, especially the night shift, are tough to say the least!

HKD snowmakers, the folks that make the orange colored snow guns we now see across a huge swath of ski areas has started a social media attempt to get those who make the snow that we all enjoy, some added appreciation for what they do by using #thankasnowmaker in photos of either running snowguns and/or the finished whales. So don't forget to occasionally take the time to stop and thank them when you see them on the hill. I can say from personally having done it many, many times now, they are appreciative, and often will let you know certain trails where the product may be a bit dryer and nicer than others.

And I hope that the tight knit community at Burke is able to effectively grieve and get past this tragic event...
 

Whitey

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Neither driver or passenger wearing seatbelts and both were ejected. It's a tragedy either way, but I work in the transportation/trucking industry and not wearing your seatbelt while driving is considered such a serious issue that people can and do get terminated for getting caught without it. It's the single biggest factor in preventing fatalities and I'd rather fire you for not wearing it than have to go visit your family and tell them you're not ever coming back home from work. Going on 18 years in transportation and I've never had to make that visit. I'd like to make that an entire career.

I tell our group of drivers (approx 100) that I'll leave them alone about wearing their seatbelt if they get caught without it on but in return they have to first bring in their wife/parents/significant other and introduce them to me so that if I have to go give them the "never coming home again" message that won't be the first time I've met them. That usually gets the message through.
 

thetrailboss

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Heard this morning. Very sad news. Word has it he was a 27-year veteran of the mountain. A familiar face for a lot of folks.

Someone else posted that the clouds this morning looked like angel wings over the mountain.
 

from_the_NEK

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Neither driver or passenger wearing seatbelts and both were ejected. It's a tragedy either way, but I work in the transportation/trucking industry and not wearing your seatbelt while driving is considered such a serious issue that people can and do get terminated for getting caught without it. It's the single biggest factor in preventing fatalities and I'd rather fire you for not wearing it than have to go visit your family and tell them you're not ever coming back home from work. Going on 18 years in transportation and I've never had to make that visit. I'd like to make that an entire career.

I tell our group of drivers (approx 100) that I'll leave them alone about wearing their seatbelt if they get caught without it on but in return they have to first bring in their wife/parents/significant other and introduce them to me so that if I have to go give them the "never coming home again" message that won't be the first time I've met them. That usually gets the message through.

:???::thumbdown:
Kind of a difference between wearing a seatbelts for trucking and riding in a vehicle that is is typically driving short distances between snow guns. There are probably some sort of OHSA regulations on wearing belts in these types of vehicles but I haven't heard any details on any of that. Not that it matters to me.
But way to point out that you have a infallible policy. :roll: And kudos to you for assigning pointed blame on a terrible accident.
 

MEtoVTSkier

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:???::thumbdown:
Kind of a difference between wearing a seatbelts for trucking and riding in a vehicle that is is typically driving short distances between snow guns. There are probably some sort of OHSA regulations on wearing belts in these types of vehicles but I haven't heard any details on any of that. Not that it matters to me.
But way to point out that you have a infallible policy. :roll: And kudos to you for assigning pointed blame on a terrible accident.

I'm sure there's a rule in place, and that most if not all Safety Admins at all resorts are now reviewing it with their employees. Heck, on GoldRush Friday night, the Owners Kid got a 30K fine from MSHA for riding in a offroad vehicle from the equipment he was operating, to the office for a Safety Meeting. Just so happened that the MSHA inspector happened to be there already, and withnessed it. Rules for a reason.

Sad that Burke has lost a longtime dedicated employee.
 

thetrailboss

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Neither driver or passenger wearing seatbelts and both were ejected. It's a tragedy either way, but I work in the transportation/trucking industry and not wearing your seatbelt while driving is considered such a serious issue that people can and do get terminated for getting caught without it. It's the single biggest factor in preventing fatalities and I'd rather fire you for not wearing it than have to go visit your family and tell them you're not ever coming back home from work. Going on 18 years in transportation and I've never had to make that visit. I'd like to make that an entire career.

I tell our group of drivers (approx 100) that I'll leave them alone about wearing their seatbelt if they get caught without it on but in return they have to first bring in their wife/parents/significant other and introduce them to me so that if I have to go give them the "never coming home again" message that won't be the first time I've met them. That usually gets the message through.

I understand your point, but again, may not be the right place or time to say this.
 

Whitey

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:???::thumbdown:
Kind of a difference between wearing a seatbelts for trucking and riding in a vehicle that is is typically driving short distances between snow guns. There are probably some sort of OHSA regulations on wearing belts in these types of vehicles but I haven't heard any details on any of that. Not that it matters to me.
But way to point out that you have a infallible policy. :roll: And kudos to you for assigning pointed blame on a terrible accident.

Wow are you off base. 1st - I said its a tragedy either way. 2nd - It's EVEN MORE of a tragedy when someone's vehicular accident fatality involves not wearing a seat belt which is proven to reduce the risk of death in an accident by at least 45%. 3rd - My mind is spinning over your assertion that wearing a seat belt while driving a snow cat is less important than when driving a truck. They are driving up and down a mountain and doing that on snow & ice. 4th - I don't even know what the regulations are and haven't looked them up but I think it is almost certain that there are not only federal and state rules there are also mountain ops policies that require seat belt usage at all times regardless of the distance being driven. 5th - I thought that it was implicit but unstated and it was the primary reason that I mentioned all that we do to ensure seat belt usage; anytime there is a fatality in a no seat belt accident that management is going to be questioned about what they did to ensure that seat belt usage was enforced. I suspect that Burke has got some explaining to do as to why such a tenured employee could violate such a fundamental rule.

Last but most important - if my post came off the wrong way it was not intended that way. I meant no disrespect to the deceased. I may be over sensitive to the issue as safety is a pretty big deal for us (because we can not only kill ourselves - we can kill the people in the vehicles around us too) and any time I see a fatality that involves no seat belt I just think "that didn't have to happen".

Apologies if you knew the deceased and my post seemed inappropriate.
 
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Whitey

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I understand your point, but again, may not be the right place or time to say this.

TB - I made my last post before I read this post. I would have probably let it go if I had read yours before.

Again, no disrespect to the deceased intended. Condolences to his family. When there are fatalities in our company (we're large, nation-wide) we try to get the message thru to the other employees in a hope that maybe that tragedy will help prevent another one and that at least that would be one "good" (not the right word, but all I can think of now) thing from that tragedy that we could do to honor the deceased by maybe saving someone else's life. I was trying to do the same here but didn't recognize that it is likely that friends of the deceased peruse this forum and that it would be difficult for them to see that in my post.

No more posts from me on the subject.
 

VTKilarney

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Whitey,

I think the responses to your post were a little harsh. You seemed well intended.
 

bdfreetuna

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What happened is a tragedy, but this is an internet forum where people express their thoughts with some expectation of reciprocal intellectual and stylistic freedom.

Don't listen to the haters, you know your intention was good.
 

uphillklimber

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Whitey, I think you are right on point. Folks saying now isn't the time, when is the time? The point sticks better when you can associate it with the end result. I felt you were respectful and informative.

Just an FYI, when I worked at the River, we were required to wear our seatbelts 100% of the time. Their position was we are paying you to take the time to put it on every time. Nothing is so important that you need to rush and bypass the seat belt. I suspect every mountain has a similar policy. I know it gets real annoying when I drive 200 feet to the next shoveling assignment, but they were paying me to do so, so I did.

A little more on what the snowmakers and groomers do for us. One of my co-workers had been at the mountain for 35 years at the time, running a groomer on night shift. A half million dollar machine! After 35 years, he was getting paid $13.50 an hour, night shift. When he took me for groomer rides, I brought his lunch. Thank you goes a long ways.

Look at the snowmakers. I see them walking down the hill all the time. They work with water, under pressure in freezing temperatures, often walking in thigh and waist deep snow, all day long. I suspect they don't paid any more than my groomer buddy. They don't call it ski mountain wages for nothing. An occasional "Great job" can go a long ways with these guys. They rock!!!
 
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