Some Calgary skiers are worried about the possible precedent that could be set if a lawsuit in B.C. against the companion of a man who died heli-skiing is successful.
The U.S. man died in 2009 near Revelstoke after he fell into a tree well while on a heli-skiing trip.
His widow has filed a lawsuit claiming his “ski buddy’’ — a fellow tourist who was paired up with the victim for that day’s runs — failed to keep his counterpart in sight.
Calgary lawyer Greg Rodin, who specializes in personal injury litigation, said he thinks the widow might have a case.
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"For everybody to understand that they have duties and there's consequences for not following the rules of the road," he said.
Rodin said if the widow’s lawyer can prove that in the sport of heli-skiing ski buddies have certain responsibilities, there could be liability if those duties were breached.
“I think in this case it might have the same beneficial effect.”
But life-long skier Eric Reid, who works at Ski West in northwest Calgary, disagrees.
In his experience, the vast majority of skiers take their role as a heli-ski buddy very seriously, he said.
“Any claims like that should be waived because you're doing a dangerous thing. And so I don't think it's a buddy's fault or anything,” he said.
Ryan Lock, who also works at Ski West, said he feels there’s a responsibility between ski partners — just not a legal one.
“Going and playing with Mother Nature anyway can be very risky. It's an uncontrolled environment. I mean a lot of heli-skiing places will take the time and effort to make sure it's the safest it can possibly be. But things happen,” he said.
The lawsuit is currently being heard at the B.C. Supreme Court.