Pond Skim Accident

First responders move the victim of a March 2017 pond skim accident at Snow King Mountain.

Mediation was unsuccessful in a lawsuit that claims Snow King Mountain Resort was negligent in a 2017 pond skim accident that injured a teenage skier.

In an online hearing late last week in Teton County District Court, attorneys for Wyatt Doyle, 18, and attorneys for Snow King argued about the definition of a “rowdy train” and the involvement or lack of involvement Snow King had in the pond skim event.

The complaint was brought by Doug and Elizabeth Doyle on behalf of their son.

In past documents their son was referred to as “WDD” because he was a minor. Now that he’s 18 he’s called by name in court documents and in court proceedings.

In their complaint the Doyles say their son was severely and permanently injured as a result of the condition of Snow King’s premises and its negligence in designing, creating and conducting a pond skim event.

Wyatt Doyle was hurt during a March 2017 pond skim, a popular spring event at mountain resorts that consists of skiers descending a run and using momentum to skim over a man-made pond of melted snow.

There hasn’t been a pond skim event at Snow King since the accident.

Doyle had wrapped up a Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club race and went to the event with friends.

He skied successfully across the pond a few times when one of his friends called for a “rowdy train,” which is when they all ski down together. One of the skiers caught Doyles’ left leg as he tried to exit the pond, cutting the skin and severing muscle, tendon and nerves. The lawsuit says Doyle now suffers from “drop foot.”

“They advertised an event,” Doyle’s attorney Jerry Bosch said at the hearing. “Prizes for best crash, best skim, best costume. Special Olympics kids did this event to start out the day. They knew some of the Ski Club kids would be coming over to use this.”

Snow King, through attorney Jim Lubing, maintains it isn’t liable for the accident and argues that pond skimming is a high-risk activity.

Judge Timothy Day set discovery deadlines for July with a fall trial, though the proceedings could look very different because of COVID-19. Courts have been holding all hearings online and will be adjusting plans for jury trials as they come up.

“I don’t think any District Court judges are holding jury trials before August,” Day said. “If we are under these precautionary conditions in a trial we would have to observe social distancing and wear masks, including the judge.”

Day told the attorneys to prepare to select a jury remotely, though he said things could change before then.

“They have had a successful remote jury trial in Texas,” Day said. “I just want to throw those things out for you to consider.”

Contact Emily Mieure at 732-7066 or courts@jhnewsandguide.com.

Emily Mieure covers criminal justice and emergency news. She also leads the News&Guide’s investigative efforts. She has reported for WDRB TV in Louisville, Ky., WFIE TV in Evansville, Ind., and WEIU TV in Charleston, Ill.

(6) comments

TERRENCE MILAN

Actually this was quite fortunate in that people on-site took quick action and we have a hospital close by. Pond skims aren't unique to Snow King and the annual death count from them … well let's face it, not enough to track it. Skier deaths are more significant, but your ticket you see a disclaimer, skiing is inherently dangerous. Given that, what would make the average person believe that a "Rowdy train" is inherently safe.

Robert Ditkoff

You can not sanction a high risk event in which underage kids are the attraction without getting parental consent.

William Broadhead

Having witnessed that episode myself. I would say that was the action of a bunch of adolescents kids ignoring any kind of rules or safety. People, young and old, need to be responsible for their own actions and also there were many adults and parents there cheering for that event. The main event that day was the town downhill. would u be blaming snow king if u got hurt doing that ?!?

JOhn Smothers

skiing at own risk!!!

james combs

These are the kind of people that ruin everyone’s fun. Stay home if your worried about everything going perfect in your life because it’s not going to happen..

Jim Tomlinson

Perfectly said. And to add to your comment. No one forced the individual to participate. Wasnt like Snow King said all participants must do a "rowdy train."

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