Ski season is upon us!
Tyson Revere has worked at all three big ski resorts on Mount Hood, and his favorite thing to do is to go snowboarding.
In 21 years of riding, he had never gotten into a bad collision — until a brutal crash a year ago changed his life.
Revere, 32, was working at Timberline as a bartender and server at the time. It was his day off, and he was out enjoying a beautiful day on the mountain.
Here is what happened, in his words:
"I was up on the Magic Mile, just going along leisurely, because I had my kids with me, and they aren’t very fast. It was a weekday, so it wasn’t really crowded up there at all. It was last winter, in March, about a year ago, and it was a bluebird sunny day, completely clear. I had two younger kids and a younger brother with me, so three kids altogether.
"We were coming down the main run, and I was just doing big, slow carves, taking it easy, and next thing you know, I was out. I still don’t remember anything. I didn’t really come back to clear consciousness until I was in the ambulance. But I guess my kids saw it and they were scared and thought I was dead. My oldest son rolled me up out of the pile of blood and snow that my face was down in, because he didn’t think that I could breathe.
"The first person on the scene was a friend of mine who was one of the managers of the ski school, so he knew what to do and who to call. I’m glad he was there.
"I don’t remember anything. They said I couldn’t even tell them what my name was. The only thing I could say was that it was my day off."
Revere was not wearing a helmet, but the 13-year-old snowboarder who hit him, Skyler Corpuz, was. As any football player knows, a helmet can do some serious damage when it hits you full force.
Corpuz’s helmet slammed into Revere head-on, right in the nose. The impact broke Revere's nose, cut up his face and forehead, and gave him a concussion.
“I must have been on my toe edge, facing uphill,” says Revere. “And he must have been going so fast, because I was facing uphilll and I didn’t even see him coming down.”
The incident report from 12:07 pm March 24, 2014 states that Corpuz, 13, was “flat-lining on a snowboard, fast” to overtake Revere when the collision occurred — a clear violation of the skier’s responsibility code.
The collision between Corpuz and Revere was a rather extreme version of the most common accident at ski resorts. These collisions sometimes lead to disputes and accusations like “You cut me off Dude!” But the law is clear. The uphill skier or snowboarder has the responsibility to pass safely, and if a collision occurs, the fault lies with the person doing the passing, not the person being passed.
Corpuz has not responded to phone messages asking for his side of the story. If he does call back, Shred Hood will update this story with his comments.
After the collision, Revere was transported to the emergency room in an ambulance. He didn’t have health insurance at the time, but his bigger immediate concern was the extent of his injuries.
His concussion and the damage to his face and nose were obvious, but there was also something else going on. He had a burning pain down his right arm and numbness, and it got worse after he was released from the hospital.
“I tried to go back to work but my arm was slowly losing strength and going numb,” he says. “So I went back into the emergency room and told them what was going on. I got an MRI and a neurologist came in and told me, ‘You need surgery immediately.’”
Revere had a ruptured disk on one of his vertebrae that had basically exploded and protruded onto a nerve, causing numbness and atrophy. The surgeon had to go in and remove all the pieces that had broken free, and the procedure left Revere bed-ridden for three months.
Revere had managed to cobble together some insurance through the Oregon Health Plan prior to surgery, but his financial situation deteriorated after his surgery. He lost his $3,000-$4,000-per-month job serving and bartending at Timberline, split up with his wife, and moved out of their rental house in Welches.
Meanwhile, his nerve pain continued. Revere tried physical therapy, but his bare-bones insurance plan would only approve one physical therapy appointment per year. He says he has been waiting five months to get in and get nerve conduction studies done, because last September his left arm started going numb multiple times a day. “When I move my neck back it shoots down from my neck to my shoulders and all the way down to my fingertips,” he says.
One of the hardest things for Revere has been his inability to go snowboarding. His dad bought him a season pass, but he has been unable to use it because of his injuries.
“Snowboarding is the thing that keeps me sane, especially with all the stuff that’s going on,” he says. “I wish I could have been up there snowboarding this winter, even though there wasn’t much of a winter. I still would have been up there.”
Working with Portland attorney Richard Rizk, a former president of Cascade Ski Club who represents injured downhill riders in ski and snowboard collision cases, Revere has filed a claim with the Corpuz family’s insurance company. He has not filed a lawsuit, nor has he implicated Timberline.
“People on the mountain always say ski at your own risk,” Revere says. “But the risks you are taking are your own risks — that you could run into a tree, or fall off a cliff. Not the risk of someone else running me down and practically paralyzing me… In 21 years of snowboarding I’ve never run into anybody."
“What if that had been one of my kids who got hit? That could have killed them. They could have been paralyzed. I’ve heard of a lot of people who get hurt or killed in ski accidents when it isn’t their fault.”
Revere says he would love to snowboard again, but he thinks the experience will be different from before.
“Even just walking down the street, if a biker or a car comes near me, it freaks me out,” he says. “I don’t want to get hit again.”