They Never Heard It Coming. Then the Snowmobile Crashed

Man held liable after he's thrown off snowmobile, which slammed into friend, causing 'horrific' injuries
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2018 7:44 AM CST
Snowmobiler Liable in Freak Runaway Accident
A freak accident in BC.   (Getty Images/Delpixart)

A fun day snowmobiling in British Columbia left one man with "horrific" injuries and another liable for them after he was thrown off his snowmobile and the vehicle kept going, slamming into one of his companions. InfoTel News reports that Devon Webb, Angelo Passerin, and about eight others were snowmobiling after lunch in McBride on March 22, 2013, when Webb's sister, Sarah, became stuck in the snow, per a lawsuit filed by Passerin. Passerin saw her waving for help and went to assist, when suddenly a riderless snowmobile came out of nowhere and struck him down. It turned out Devon Webb had been thrown from his snowmobile, which then "traveled over a 100-foot cliff, climbed out of a 20-foot powdered ravine, and raced at full throttle for [0.6 to 0.9 miles] until it struck Mr. Passerin," the suit notes. It only stopped after slamming into Sarah Webb's snowmobile.

The crash left Passerin with broken leg bones and vertebrae, a brain injury, and a limp now with him for life, the CBC reports. Webb was found liable because he wasn't wearing the tethered safety cord that should be hooked to each rider's clothing; if the rider falls off, the cord, attached to a cap on the snowmobile, yanks off the cap, which shuts the vehicle off. Supreme Court Justice Dev Dley found Webb had neglected to put his tether on, bucking precautions that would've kept his friend safe. Although Webb tried to argue that Passerin had been drinking—the latter had a vodka cranberry with his lunch, while Webb had consumed no alcohol—the judge found "no evidence" Passerin was impaired to the point where he could've avoided being hit by the runaway snowmobile. Both Passerin and Sarah Webb said they hadn't heard the snowmobile coming. (Read more freak accident stories.)

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