ELKHORN, Wis. — While concerned parents say Alpine Valley Ski Resort isn't doing enough to prevent skiers from falling into a creek at the bottom of the hill, a manager says it could be more dangerous to block it off completely.
Suburban mom Melissa Mastros says earlier this month her 10-year-old son couldn’t stop at the end of a run, plowed through a plastic safety fence, wound up in the cold creek and had to be treated for hypothermia.
“I think it’s appalling. I think one person in that river is one too many, and the fact that they’re not doing anything about it is sick,” Mastros said in a social media post about the incident.
Alpine Valley manager Bruce Firestone told WGN the breakaway fence that separates the ski runs from the water is considered the safest way to slow or stop out-of-control skiers. A permanent barrier like a wall would pose more risks, they said.
The ski resort has been in operation for more than five decades, and is where many Chicagoans first learned to ski. Out of the 200,000 skiers each year, Firestone said they had four cases of skiers ending up in the creek last year, and three the year before.
Mastro's Facebook post generated responses from many people with similar stories, including another mother who said her daughter also wound up in the water two years ago.
“I heard someone frantically yelling from the chairlift: ‘A child in the water! A child in the water!’ My heart sank. I couldn’t see my daughter at the bottom,” she wrote.
Firestone says the responsibility is ultimately on skiers to stay off runs that exceed their experience. In an official statement, the resort said it is investigating the incident.
"Alpine Valley is committed to our guests safety," the resort said.