Serious injuries on toboggan run prompts review by City of London staff
LONDON, ONT. -- The city has launched a review of a hill in Byron used by winter fun-seekers.
The measures are being taken after a London resident suffered serious injuries on a toboggan run over the weekend.
Friend Stacey Evoy, says Pete Mogan and Jess Bickell were anxious for a little outdoor time with their three children, but then tragedy struck.
“Here they are just out having some good family fun on a Saturday afternoon. It’s just sad that this was the end result.”
Mogan went airborne coming off the base of the hill. He hit the ground hard, resulting in a fractured skull, a brain bleed and other internal injuries.
Mogan and Bickell operate The Rep Room, a training centre in Hyde Park.
Evoy says, like many gym owners, the couple has struggled during the lockdown. After hearing of Mogan’s injuries, the gym community immediately started to fundraise. Evoy felt more had to be done and started a GoFundMe page which raised $15,000 dollars in the first 12 hours, with money continuing to pour in.
“It’s going to be a long road to recovery and we felt that we really needed to go outside of the gym and go to the London community who are always so willing to help people.”
Neighbours in the homes that sit at the top of the park say the hills that surround Byron Somerset Public School have become busier during the pandemic.
“People are cooped up and they’re trying to find an outlet. So there’s been a lot of activity on the hill,” according to John Lounsbury, who has lived in a home at the top of the hill for almost 20 years.
The property is a former gravel pit. Most of the toboggan runs have a smooth path down but there’s a berm at the bottom of one run that’s designed to control storm water runoff, preventing schoolyard flooding.
That berm has become a launching pad, with some users grooming it to do just that.
It worries Lounsbury and others in the area.
“I think they should at least warn people that that is not a good place to go; where there’s a ramp at the bottom. We’ve seen many people fly off, go six... eight feet in the air at measurable speed.”
Neighbours say ambulances were called to the site at least three times over the previous weekend.
A map, provided by the Thames Valley District School Board, shows the hills are part of Whisperwood Park, which is municipal property.
The City’s Managing Director of Parks and Recreation, Scott Stafford, says the situation is being reviewed, “We’ve been out there today and we’re heading out their again tomorrow to see what we can do; to see ways to prevent this from happening again in the future.”
Stafford extends sympathies to Mogan and his loved ones. While the city reviews what can be done to improve safety, they’re advising those using any toboggan hills to always take precautions.
“It’s an awful situation for a family and we just want people to be careful and safe. You know, have a look at the hills and make sure of the equipment they are using, and some of the safety gear that they could possibly be wearing, to possibly make these activities safer.”