WINDHAM, N.Y. (CBS 2) — A Long Island community is mourning the death of a teen after a skiing accident at Windham Mountain.
The 18-year-old suffered head injuries after losing control and crashing into a tree – and there are questions about whether the tragedy could have been prevented, reports CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.
“It’s very sad and it’s awful, that’s all I can say,” the victim’s aunt, Christine Fay, said. “She was a beautiful girl…We love you, Erin.”
Dozens of relatives and neighbors cars filled the cul-de-sac in front of Erin Malloy-McArdle’s North Bellmore home during an outpouring of love. The honor student and athlete was killed when she skied into a tree at Windham Mountain in the Catskills.
“[Erin’s parents] are just overwhelmed – it’s a tragic loss,” Erin’s uncle, Timothy Fay, said. “Pray for them – that’s all we can do.”
As most experienced skiers will tell you, downhill speeds on many slopes can accelerate quickly. Erin, who was a novice, lost control and crashed into a hardwood tree.
“She was a great girl, and something like this just happens and it just blows everybody’s mind,” friend Emily Joy said. “It’s really sad, and it hurts.”
Windham Mountain’s president said they’re shaken to the core, adding the cornerstone of the responsibility code is to “ski within your own ability.”
Erin was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. It’s not a requirement in New York State, but expert skier Rob Altiner of Long Island’s Sno-Haus thinks it should be.
“When helmets first came out, it was ‘not cool’ to wear a helmet,” Altiner said.
With so many options for color, fit and venting options these days, though, “there really is no excuse for not wearing a helmet,” he said.
Last year, there were 38 skiing and snowboarding deaths nationwide, and half of the victims were not wearing helmets.
“I was knocked out, with a concussion, with a helmet on,” skier Mark Salmin said. “If I wasn’t, I’d probably be dead.”
Erin was scheduled to have had a scholarship meeting Monday at Adelphi University. Instead, her school, Mepham High School, will be holding grief counseling in the morning.
Windham Mountain has not had a fatality in more than 15 years. The resort rents and sells helmets.