Big White Ski Resort has been closed since March 16, in response to COVID-19. Photo Facebook

‘All avoidable’: Man suffers back injury at closed Big White ski hill near Kelowna

Accident was “all avoidable” says Big White executive

A 19-year-old man was seriously injured Friday at Big White Ski Resort, despite the fact the facility has been closed for nearly a month in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief Chris Cormack of the Big White Fire Department said an individual came to the nearby fire hall around 3:10 p.m. to inform crew members of the injured man.

“We happened to have somebody at the hall who called dispatch, he said. “We had two trucks respond and eight members.”

The ski has been closed since March 16 due to COVID-19, and with no ski patrollers on site, Cormack said the situation could have ended far worse.

“Fortunately it was close to the fire hall and we were able to respond on foot, but if it was farther away it would have been a very different story.”

Crews walked across the snow to the Telus Park, where the man had injured his back.

Michael Ballingall, resort vice-president, said that the incident was “all avoidable.”

“They had to provide first aid, a backboard, a neck-brace, and physically walk him out to the road, at which time he was handed over to B.C. Ambulance and transported to Kelowna General Hospital.”

The man is being treated for a serious back injury.

Ballingall urged people to stay away from Big White until further notice.

“The mountain is closed, the creeks have started to run, the snow is shifting, and it is simply dangerous to be out on a mountain that is not patrolled, groomed, fenced or managed at this time,” he said.

“Please do not venture out on Big White Mountain. You are just putting yourself in danger, and first responders, plus those on the front lines in a position that is not necessary if they are required to provide you with care.”

READ MORE: Ski season at Big White comes to an early close due to COVID-19

Big White, located 56 kilometres southeast of Kelowna, is the third largest ski resort in B.C.

When the mountains and the resort village were shuttered on March 16, there were 6,000 people on site.

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andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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