Death on mountaintop highlights snowmaking dangers
Scott Stafford reports in The Berkshire Eagle that Kimber Francoeur, 30, died Jan. 4 at the Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort when the snowmobile she was operating collided with a snow groomer. “We are aware of what happened and a complaint officer is assigned to look into it,” said Mary Hoye, area director of the Springfield office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Hoye said it was not the first time she had heard of a snow-making death on a mountaintop. So far, the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office ruled Francoeur's death was an accident. The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health issued a statement about the moutaintop death. “Although tragic events like this are most likely to occur at construction sites and loading docks, workers working around mobile equipment in any setting are at risk,” the agency noted. ”It is extremely important that employers train their employees to be aware of the paths of moving vehicles, backing vehicles, and blind spots, and implement safe equipment operation practices.” While safety experts warned of the dangers of snow making, Adrienne Saia Isaac, director of marketing and communications for the National Ski Areas Association, said ski area snowmobile deaths are “extraordinarily rare. The ski industry, as a whole, shares and highlights those rare incidents to help us all learn and protect each other.” Locally, besides the Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in Massachusetts, there is the Catamount Ski Resort on the state border in Columbia County, and resorts in Windham and Hunter in Greene County. Read more about this story in The Berkshire Eagle.