Vail snowboarder in critical condition |

Vail snowboarder in critical condition

Geraldine Haldner

Dwight Witherington of Vail was practicing aerial maneuvers in the lower half of the Golden Peak Super Pipe & Terrain Park shortly after 1 p.m.”We don’t know exactly what happened. Ski patrol found him unconscious in the lower part of the terrain park,” said Kelly Ladyga, manager of corporate communications for Vail Resorts. “We are trying to piece together what happened and find as many witnesses as we can.”WitheringtonKim Andree of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office said witnesses reported seeing Witherington, was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, attempt a 360-degree maneuver off a “hit,” a packed bank of snow used by snowboarders and skiers to catapult themselves into the air.”He landed backwards and when he tried to turn around he fell on his head,” Andree said Monday.Andree said no other skiers or snowboarders were involved in the accident.Vail Resorts Ski Patrol responded to the terrain park next to the Riva Bahn Express Lift and transported Witherington to the base of Vail Mountain, said Ladyga.Witherington was rushed to the Vail Valley Medical Center, where he was admitted to the emergency room in critical condition, said the hospital’s spokeswoman, Sarah Ladd.Because of the extent of his injuries, medical staff stabilized Witherington for transport to Denver Health Medical Center. He was rushed by ambulance to Frisco after low clouds coverage prevented a Flight for Life helicopter from landing in Vail. He was airlifted from Frisco to Denver.”Helicopters need to see the mountain tops,” said Jeff Jones of the Eagle County Ambulance District Monday. “Since we live in a rural area, we sometimes have to switch gear to get someone to Denver.”Denver Health spokeswoman Julie Vogel said Witherington remains unconscious and in critical condition in intensive care as of Monday evening.Witherington works for Specialty Sports Ventures, which offers demo equipment on Vail Mountain. He had just finished work an hour earlier at the Burton Yurt, at the top of the terrain park.A Kansas native, he also is a participant in a Bible study program organized by the Vail Bible Church.According to Vail Resorts’ safety guidelines, snowboarders and skiers, entering the terrain parks on Vail Mountain and Beaver Creek Mountain do so at their own risk and are advised to wear the proper safety equipment. According to the safety guidelines, which are posted at the entrance of the terrain parks, skiers and snowboarders are asked to ski or board according to their abilities.Witherington’s accident comes at the heels of a national, week-long campaign by ski resorts to increase safety awareness and the Skier’s Responsibility Code.Geraldine Haldner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 602, or at

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