Parents File Suit in Exchange Student Skiing Death
The family of Niclas Waschle, a German exchange student living with a Montana family when he died in a skiing accident, filed suit against the ski resort, the host family and the company that arranged for his exchange student experience. Niclas’ mother, Patricia Birkhold-Waschle, his father, Raimund Waschle and his brother, Philip Waschle, are named as plaintiffs in the suit, which is requesting compensation for damages, medical and other expenses.
According to reports, Niclas was skiing near the T-bar 2 ski lift on a groomed trail at the Whitefish Mountain Resort on Dec. 29, 2010, when he fell into a tree well and suffocated. Tree wells form around the base of trees in deep snow, and they can be difficult to escape. Niclas’ body was discovered when two other skiers spotted skis sticking out of the snow and found him unconscious. He was declared brain dead three days later and his parents removed him from life support.
Court documents claim that Winter Sports Inc., doing business as Whitefish Mountain Resort, had a duty of reasonable care and should have blocked off or restricted the area or at least placed warning signs. The lawsuit also points to the death of a 29-year old snowboarder who died ten days later when he fell into a nearby tree well. The family also claims that World Experience, the student exchange program, and the host family, Fred and Lynne Vanhorn, failed to safeguard Niclas by letting him ski alone in inclement weather. Fred Vanhorn is a ski instructor at the resort, and the lawsuit alleges he should have known the dangers and not permitted Niclas to ski that day.
A statement released by the resort denies any wrongdoing, stating that tree well and deep snow immersion accidents are unfortunate occurrences in resorts such as theirs. They claim it is impossible to identify a particular tree in a forest of tens of thousands, where a tree well has occurred simply by looking at it. Therefore, it is impossible to place warning signs or restrict access to potential dangers, as that tree wells occur often in deep, unconsolidated snow.
When the negligence of another person is suspected as the cause or a contributing factor in an accident that causes injury or death, a wrongful death claim may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation regarding an accident where injuries may have been caused or worsened by someone else’s negligence.