Teen Paralyzed After Ski Jump, Family Says

     CLEVELAND (CN) – An Ohio teenager became a quadriplegic after using a “Big Air” ramp that a ski resort did not reserve for professional snowboarders, he and his parents claim in court.
     Though the Feb. 13 complaint does not give his age, Joseph Neathery would have been 15 or 16 at the time he fractured his c-6 vertebra at the Brandywine Ski Resort operated by Peak Resorts in Peninsula, Ohio, on March 6, 2013.
     Just a few days earlier, the resort had held a competition for professional skiers and snowboarders called “Big Air at Brandywine,” according to the complaint filed in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
     The complaint quotes a definition of Big Air from Wikipedia as “a sports discipline where the competitor rides a vehicle (such as a snowboard, …) down a hill and performs tricks after launching off very large jumps. It is an extreme version of slopestyle.” (Parentheses in original; emphasis added in complaint.)
     Though “the specially built Big Air jump was closed to the general public” after the March 2, 2013, contest, the Neatherys say that Brandywine “for some unknown reason, opened the specially built Big Air Jump to the general public” on March 5, 2013.
     That day, “at least one member of the general public that tried the Big Air Jump … suffered a serious injury of a fractured wrist,” the complaint states.
     The Neatherys say that the Big Air Jump “was not appropriately marked” when Joseph approached it on March 6, and “the dangers of the Big Air Jump and the landing area could not have been revealed upon visual inspection.”
     “The approach and landing area of the Big Air Jump had changed substantially from the condition they were in during the professional competition,” the complaint states. “This change made the Big Air Jump significantly more dangerous for the general public than it had been for the competition with the professional snowboarders.”
     When Joseph Neathery attempted the Big Air Jump, “he was skiing too fast and over-jumped the landing area,” the complaint continues.
     “As a result … he landed outside of the landing zone and actually landed on a flat area instead of the sloped landing zone,” the Neatherys say. “As a result, Joseph Neathery was caused to suffer severe and permanent injuries, including a c-6 fracture which caused quadriplegia.”
     The Neatherys say snowboarders who practice for dangerous “Big Air” jumps often use air bags that act as a fall cushion, “but an airbag was not in the landing area” on the day of Joseph’s accident.
     Whether the professionals used an airbag at Brandywine on March 2 is “unknown,” but the Neatherys say those jumpers were allowed “one hour and fifteen minutes to practice on the specially built Big Air Jump before the competition.”
     Wildwood, Mo.-based Peak Resorts is the sole defendant to the Neatherys’ action, which seeks punitive damages for negligence and other claims.
     The Neatherys are represented by R. Eric Kennedy of Weisman, Kennedy and Berris in Cleveland. Kennedy did not return a call seeking comment on the lawsuit. A request for comment is pending with Peak as well.
     A website hosting the results of the 2014 Casey’s Challenge, the fifth annual event for individuals with physical disabilities hosted by Adaptive Sports Program of Ohio, shows that a 17-year-old Medina resident named Joseph Neathery participated in the 2-mile event.

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