Battered teenager back on slopes

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To the rescue . . . The Westpac Rescue Helicop ter team have been to more than 30 ski related callouts across Canter bury so far this winter. PHOTO: WESTPAC RESCUE HELICOP TER

A South Canterbury teen is back on the slopes just weeks after slamming into rocks while snowboarding.

Liam Scrase (16) received severe bruising to his back after landing on rocks while snowboarding on Mt Dobson on July 14.

With no broken bones or long-term internal damage, he considers himself one of the lucky ones.

It took 15 people to rescue Liam from the gully where he fell. Due to the location, the Westpac rescue helicopter could not reach him. Instead, he was taken to hospital by car.

“I’m fine,” he said, one month on.

“There was a massive bruise. It made [it a] struggle to walk for quite a while.”

Now, fully recovered and back on the slopes, Liam and his parents are advocating for people to wear body armour while skiing or snowboarding, to increase protection.

The armour was the same as that used by motocross riders, which provides extra protection for a person’s internal organs should an accident occur.

Liam, who is from Lake Tekapo but attends Christchurch Boys’ High School, put his new gear to the test on Mt Hutt last weekend, when he hit the slopes for the first time since his accident.

He urges others to consider investing in armour, too.

“If you are going to [ski or snowboard] back-country and you don’t know what it’s going to be like, definitely wear one.”

His dad, Andy Scrase, was grateful to the many people who helped Liam on the day of his Mount Dobson accident.

There was one particular person who stayed with Liam the entire time whom he wanted to thank, but could not track down.

“We would like him to come forward because we appreciated [what he did],” Andy said.

He also credited Timaru Hospital staff.

As a result of the skifield’s recent accidents, the Scrase family has also donated money towards a rescue sled, to replace the existing sled.

Although the Westpac rescue helicopter was not called to help Liam, it has had 32 callouts to skifields across Canterbury so far this winter.

One of those was to Mt Dobson the same day as Liam’s accident, to pick up a 25-year-old man who also hit a rock while snowboarding. He was taken to Christchurch Hospital.

Westpac rescue helicopter intensive care paramedic Mike McLintock said the man tumbled and hit his head.

He said most skifield callouts were for lower leg fractures and back and neck injuries, but in many cases, most people were being “proactive” by wearing protective gear, helmets, in particular, he said.

Snow missions

Westpac rescue helicopter missions to Canterbury skifields this winter:

June: 2 skiers, snowboarders

July: 16 skiers, 6 snowboarders

August: 4 skiers, 2 snowboarders