Skiing Accidents that Kill Celebrities

by Frank V. Persall

Celebrity appearances at ski resorts are become more prevalent. Every winter, Hollywood celebs vacation at leading skiing areas for snowboarding, skiing, tubing and more. Harry Styles, Seal, Gwen Stefani, Michael Douglas, Gavin Rossdale, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Nick Cannon, Mariah Carey, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are among the celebs who vacationed at premium ski resorts in December of 2013. Colorado, Aspen, the French Alps, and Quebec are visited by the affluent and famous because they feature some of the world's greatest ski resorts.

The magnificent vistas, quaint ski villages, luxurious hotels and one-of-a-kind services offered at premium ski resorts make them an enticing alternative for celebrities who desire to vacation. Yet, despite the rising popularity of ski trips, skiing can be an extremely hazardous activity. Celebrities have been harmed and some have even died after suffering catastrophic injuries while out on the ski slopes. Safety equipment, such as ski helmets, cannot do much to safeguard individuals skiing at maximum speeds. Stars enhance their chances of risk by skiing off-piste, the growing number of celebrity deaths may be why some now consider the sport as a death trap.

Despite the fact that hundreds of ski accidents occur each year, the skiing accidents that result in the deaths of celebrities are the ones that get the most media attention.

Skiing Accidents that Kill Celebrities
Skiing Accidents that Kill Celebrities

Celebrity Ski Deaths

However, while some celebrity skiing incidents resulted in minor injuries, including fractured limbs, others ended in death. These are just a few of the most recent additions.

Natasha Richardson's Accident at Mont Tremblant.

Natasha Richardson's Accident at Mont Tremblant.
Natasha Richardson's Accident at Mont Tremblant. (source)

When the actress Natasha Richardson discovered that she was a beginner skier, she opted to enroll in a private skiing instruction at Mont Tremblant, which is situated in Eastern Canada. She was not sporting a ski helmet at the time. When she landed on a flat, simple green track, she was under the impression that she had not incurred any kind of major injuries. Despite this, the ski patrol came and brought her to the resort's medical center for treatment. She signed the documents that would allow her to be released from the infirmary at 1:10 p.m. According to her teacher, she was joking about the accident and seemed to be in good spirits.

Richardson woke up with a strong headache about an hour after the incident. Her instructor summoned an ambulance, which transported her to Sainte Agathe's Centre Hospitalier Laurentien for treatment. She was eventually moved to Montreal's Hopital du Sacre-Coeur for further treatment. Epidural hematoma was discovered in Richardson's brain, which is a kind of damage that is often induced by a traumatic skull fracture. She passed away only a few hours later.

Michael Kennedy's Accident in Aspen

In December 1997, Robert Kennedy's son, Michael Kennedy, was skiing in Aspen, Colorado, with his father, Robert Kennedy. In order to pass the time while skiing down Copper Bowl, one of Aspen Mountain's steeper slopes, Kennedy and his buddies felt it would be entertaining to throw a football back and forth between them. Kennedy wasn't wearing a helmet at the time of the incident. Kennedy was involved in a collision with a tree at around 4:14 p.m. He died some hours later as a result of a head injury.

Sonny Bono Accident at Heavenly

Representative Sonny Bono of Sonny and Cher fame went skiing at Heavenly Ski Resort on January 5, 1998. Heavenly Ski Resort is situated in South Lake Tahoe, California, and is on the Nevada side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The incident occurred as he was skiing on an intermediate slope and hit with a tree, suffering a significant head trauma. Based on the coroner's report, Bono passed away immediately after being struck by lightning.

John McWethy Accident at Keystone

John McWethy worked as a national-security journalist for ABC News for many years. After retiring, he relocated to Boulder, Colorado, so that he could continue to engage in his favorite hobby, alpine skiing, which he had begun in his youth. He was skiing down the intermediate Keystone Porcupine Trail when he hit with a tree, landing on his chest. Despite the fact that McWethy was wearing a helmet at the time of his death, the Frisco Summit County coroner's office found that the cause of his death was blunt force chest injuries.

Michael Trudeau

When he was skiing in British Columbia, Michael Trudeau, the youngest son of then-Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau and the brother of the current Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, was killed in an avalanche on November 13, 1998, according to the Canadian government. Avalanche struck as he was skiing with his companions in the mountains. Despite his best efforts, Trudeau was forced into Kokanee Lake, where he was stopped from reaching the beach by an oncoming wall of snow. Trudeau perished in the freezing waters, and rescue personnel were unable to locate his corpse after an extensive search.

Ross Milne

Ross Milne died on the 25th of January, 1964. While preparing for the 1964 Innsbruck Games in Austria, he lost his footing and crashed into a tree, injuring himself.

Leslie Ross Milne was an Australian alpine ski racer who competed in the Winter Olympics in the 1960s. Following a training run at Patscherkofel, Milne lost control and crashed into a tree, resulting in his death from a head injury. Milne had qualified for the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck in the men's downhill. According to the results of an investigation conducted by the organizing committee, he "caught an edge." In a report to the Australian Olympic Federation, Hugh Weir stated that because Ross Milne was only seventeen years old, a question was raised at the International Olympic Committee meeting about whether inexperienced people should be sent to compete in snow sports that comprise of dangerous element.

Josef Walcher

Josef Walcher died on the 22nd of January, 1984. Although he had resigned from his alpine skiing career in 1982, he died while he was racing in a charity event in Schladming, Austria.

Josef "Sepp" Walcher was an Austrian alpine ski racer who competed in the World Cup. He excelled in the downhill ski racing and won a gold medal at the 1978 World Championships in Garmisch, West Germany, where he represented his country. Walcher, who was born in Styria and made his debut in the World Cup in December 1972, only two days after becoming eighteen years old. 2 months later, he finished second in the World Cup in St. Moritz, Switzerland, earning him his first points in the World Cup (and his first World Cup podium). Walcher's first World Cup win came at Morzine, France, in January 1977, when he finished on the podium for the seventh time. His greatest two seasons were 1977 & 1978, when he finished second in the downhill standings behind compatriot Franz Klammer on both occasions.

Why Do Skiing Accidents Result in the Death of Famous People?

Three of these incidents occurred because the skiers were not wearing ski helmets. Unfortunately, some individuals are under the impression that you don't need to wear a helmet if you aren't skiing on difficult terrain or in deep snow. It seems that this is not the case. Besides not wearing a ski helmet, Michael Kennedy was also throwing a football, which may have resulted in catastrophic harm to other snowboarders and skiers around him. On-mountain foolishness is considered a breach of the resort's safety regulations. While we do not know the specific details of the John McWethy accident, it has been reported that he was skiing at a high speed, raising the possibility that his death was caused by an uncontrolled speed.

How to Prevent Ski Accidents

Maintain fitness.

Ensure you are in a good physical shape before you head out on a ski excursion. If you're out of shape, pick ski slopes cautiously and gradually make your way up to tougher tracks. Many ski accidents come at the end of the day, as individuals attempt to get in one final run before the day's finish. The bulk of these injuries may simply be averted if you prepare by remaining in excellent physical shape and quitting when you are tired or in pain.

Warm up.

Studies have revealed that damages occur mostly to cold muscles. Warm up with jogging, jumping jacks, or just walking for 3 to 5 minutes. Take a couple of gentle ski runs to finish your warmup.


Even low amounts of dehydration may decrease athletic performance and endurance. Drink lots of water before, during, and after skiing.

Know safety rules.

Learn and abide by all regulations of the ski resort. Know basic safety regulations of skiing, such as how to properly stop, merge, and yield to other skiers. Learn how to use a ski lift safely. Before you go on your excursion, be sure you learn how to properly enter and exit an elevator.

Ensure that the proper equipment is in place.

  • Wear many layers of light, loose clothing that is water-proof and wind-resistant to keep warm and protected from the elements. Layering helps you to adjust your clothing to your body's continually fluctuating temperature.
  • Ski shops that adhere to the requirements of the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) should be used to purchase or rent bindings and boots that have been adjusted, set, maintained and tested.
  • Before you go skiing, double-check the bindings on each of your skis. The bindings must be appropriately set to your height, weight, and skiing skill before you can begin skiing.
  • Wearing safety equipment like as goggles and a helmet is recommended. Helmets are designed for certain sports; thus, a bike helmet should not be used on the slopes. Helmets for skiing should be worn at all times.

About Frank V. Persall

Frank is originally from the UK, but he has a passion for skiing that knows no bounds. He has made it his life's mission to visit the best ski resorts across the USA and the World. Frank loves spending time with his wife and three children on ski slopes, as they all share his love for the activity.

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