In March of 2017, a teenager was seriously injured from a pond skimming event at Jackson Hole’s Snow King Mountain. The family of the injured teen is now claiming that Snow King was negligent, and according to the Jackson Hole News and Guide, has filed a lawsuit against the resort. Doug and Elizabeth Doyle, the parents of the teen, claims that their son, referred to as “WDD” in the report, received severe and permanent injuries from the incident. WDD’s leg was accidentally lacerated by a friend who skied over him when he fell in the pool. The pool quickly turned red from the bleeding wound and bystanders rushed to extricate the skier and tourniquet the wound. The ski blade, which sliced through blood vessels, tendons, and nerves, has caused permanent nerve damage for the teen, who now has a condition called drop-foot which impacts his ability to walk.
The Doyle family argues that this could have been prevented had Snow King not been negligent in designing and conducting such an event. Before March 11th, the resort constructed a pond at the bottom of the mountain and advertised the skim as “one you don’t want to miss” and a bit “a bit rowdy.”
While pond skims are familiar spring skiing spectacles, the Doyle family argues that where Snow King went wrong was that no one was managing the event when it began. Furthermore, they claim there was an absence of warning signs about the dangers associated with skimming, thus allowing anyone to use it unmanaged. Seeking legal action was the Doyle family’s last option, in which they hope to be compensated for substantial medical bills resulting from the incident. Snow King Resort is technically protected from lawsuits of this nature by Wyoming’s newest Skier Safety Act, but this complaint was filed back in 2017 before the new act was put into effect.
According to the pre-existing Wyoming Recreational Safety Act which states, “ inherent risk with regard to any sport or recreational opportunity means those dangers or conditions are characteristic of, intrinsic to, or an integral part of any sport or recreational opportunity,” however, the Doyle family argues that this wasn’t inherent. One factor that could impede the lawsuit is it remains unknown is pond skim participants signed liability waivers. Jeff Moran who was the emcee for the last event, recalls waivers being signed for each event he’s worked. Snow King has not released a statement surrounding the lawsuit, but this year the pond skim was not held. It is unclear if its absence is directly related to last year’s incident.