A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled that the owner of a runaway snowmobile is liable for the injuries caused when that snowmobile hit a fellow rider.
In documents filed late last month, Justice Dev Dley found that the negligence of Davon Webb not wearing a snowmobile tether cord meant he was on the hook for damages caused by his snowmobile careening into Angelo Steven Passerin.
Passerin was hit during a 10-person snowmobile excursion up Mount Renshaw, just north of McBride, B.C., on March 21, 2013.
Halfway through the day, Webb’s sister waved to Passerin when her snowmobile got stuck in deep some on a nearby hill.
Passerin had gone only 10 feet towards her when he was hit by Webb’s runaway snowmobile.
Webb had been riding uphill at half throttle when he hit an unexpected snowdrift.
He braked, causing his snowmobile to pitch forward and throw him off into the snow.
The riderless snowmobile careened over a 100 foot cliff, climbed out of a 20 foot ravine and “raced full throttle for 1.5 kilometres” to collide with Passerin.
Another member of the group yelled to try and warn Passerin but his yells were not heard.
The group rushed to tend to Passerin’s injuries for three to four hours until a helicopter arrived to transport him to hospital.
The judge heard various accounts from Webb as to whether or not he attached the tether cord that was meant to turn off the snowmobile if the rider fell off.
The judge found Webb an unreliable witness and that his testimony “was fraught with contradictions on material points.”
Throughout various points throughout his testimony, Webb gave varying locations for where he had attached the tether cord. He started with his jacket, then his pants and then finally said that he had forgotten to reattach it before lunch. He admitted that he did not check whether or not the cord was attached after lunch.
The judge said that although Webb not wearing the cord did not in and of itself make him liable for Passerin’s injuries, Webb’s failure to do safety checks after lunch showed “that he did not have much regard for safety measures.”