The grandfather of a girl seriously injured at Nova Scotia’s Ski Wentworth wants New Brunswick ski hills to make helmets mandatory.  

Olivia McLean, 13, missed a turn and hit a tree after participating in a competition on Feb. 15.

She broke her leg and injured her head. She was airlifted to the IWK hospital in Halifax and spent nine days in an induced coma.

'I wouldn't think about playing hockey without a helmet now, so why would I consider skiing without one?' - Stephen Moffett

“We just dropped everything and headed to Halifax,” said McLean’s grandfather, Stephen Moffett.​ "As of Monday, they were able to do surgery on her leg and allow her to wake up."

McLean was wearing a helmet. Moffett, a board member at New Brunswick’s Poley Mountain, believes that helmet saved her life.

Moffett said his granddaughter, who is from near Sussex, N.B., had intended to go skiing with just a headband, but another skier reminded her that helmets are mandatory in Nova Scotia.

“She went back and put her helmet on and because of that, she had a helmet on when she hit a tree. That certainly changed the outcome. It could have been a lot worse,” he said.

Olivia McLean hit a tree while skiing in Nova Scotia.

Olivia McLean hit a tree while skiing in Nova Scotia. (Courtesy McLean family)

Moffett wants New Brunswick ski hills to follow Nova Scotia's example and make helmets mandatory.

“There’s no question she should have been wearing a helmet and she was — that probably saved her life,” he said.

Helmet rule should be voluntary

A few years ago, Poley Mountain made it mandatory for ski-hill staff to wear helmets. Moffett said staff wanted to set the right example. Skiers are following. 

“About 90 per cent of people wear helmets now. Obviously we think it should be 100 per cent," he said. 

"When I was a kid, I started out playing hockey without a helmet, I rode my bike without a helmet — all those things changed. I wouldn’t think about playing hockey without a helmet now, so why would I consider skiing without one?” 

Moffett said he would prefer it if the ski mountains took on the policy themselves, instead of relying on government to enforce a law.