Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Teen badly hurt in horror ski fall gets travel firm payout

A teenager who was badly hurt in a childhood skiing accident has secured a five-figure settlement to cover future medical care costs.

Rona McKnight, from Bangor, was just 11 years old when she suffered horrific leg injuries during beginner skiing lessons in Andorra.

She lost control going down a steep piste at the Soldeu el Tarter ski resort before hitting an unprotected metal post at the bottom of the slope.

The accident left her with a shortened left leg, as well as permanent scarring where a bone broke through her thigh.

Following an out-of-court settlement just days ahead of a trial, the 19-year-old student recalled her terror — eight years after the accident.

“I was so scared. I wasn’t keen on going to the top section of the mountain anyway, as it was my first time skiing, but the instructor wanted to take us,” she said.

“On the way down I just couldn’t stop on the ice as it was too steep, and I hit a metal post at the bottom of the slope which was not surrounded by any barriers or padding, and was just covered in orange plastic netting.”

Rona, who is studying at Queen’s University in Belfast, was treated at the Nostra Senyora De Meritxell Hospital in Andorra for 12 days before spending two months in hospital on her return to Northern Ireland.

She has had several operations to stabilise her fractures and further surgery to remove the metalwork from her thigh.

“It was just horrible having to spend all that time in hospital and having surgery so many times,” said Rona, who also had skin grafts.

“I’ve also been left with scarring, but thanks to the settlement, once I’ve finished university, I can now have the further treatment I need.”

Her holiday was booked with Panorama Holidays, which settled the case as it was about to go to trial eight years after the accident.

Jennifer Lund, a travel law specialist at Irwin Mitchell, who represented Rona, said the money will help cover treatment costs.

“Rona should never have been put into the situation she was in,” Ms Lund said.

“It was not a safe environment for a beginner skier, and sadly, Rona has suffered injuries because of the negligent actions of the tour operator’s service providers.

“Sadly, during the ski season many people suffer injuries on the slopes, and these accidents can change their lives for ever.

“We urge anyone carrying out winter sports, such as skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing, to be extra vigilant, to remain aware of others and their surroundings, and to try and help as many people as possible avoid serious injuries,” Ms Lund said.

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