Ski Slope Mishaps

Deadly Accidents on the Mountainside

Statistics say that fewer than forty Americans a year are killed in skiing accidents. Sadly, that hasn’t prevented some high-profile celebrities from dying on or near the slopes. Here’s the grim roll call.

Sonny Bono, 1998

Singer and politician SONNY BONO was killed in 1998 while skiing at the ironically-named Heavenly Ski Resort in California. At age 62, Bono apparently lost control before crashing into a tree at the South Lake Tahoe resort.
“Bono’s body was found by the ski patrol about 6:45 p.m.,” reported the New York Times in its obituary of Bono. “Sheriff Ron Pierini of Douglas County said Bono skied into a wooded area and hit a tree. The sheriff said Bono died of massive head injuries. There was no evidence of drug or alcohol use, he said.”
Bono’s wife, Mary Bono, was elected to replace him as U.S. Representative from California’s 45th District. She later married Congressman Connie Mack of Florida and became Rep. Mary Bono Mack.
Michael Kennedy, 1997

Sonny Bono’s death was doubly freakish, having come just five days after a similar skiing accident killed MICHAEL KENNEDY in Aspen, Colorado. Kennedy (the son of the late senator Robert F. Kennedy) also crashed into a tree. He was killed while playing a game popular with his family: tossing a football as they sped down the slopes.

John Denver and Claudine Longet, 1976

Michael Kennedy’s accidental death in Aspen had another strange connection. Aspen was the home of popular singer JOHN DENVER, who had been killed just a few months earlier, on 12 October 1997, while flying his homemade airplane over the Pacific Ocean.In turn, Denver had been friends with singer CLAUDINE LONGET, who shot and killed her boyfriend, Olympic skier Vladimir “Spider” Sabich in Aspen in 1976. Longet was friends with Denver and stayed with the singer and his wife in their home that night after the shooting. Longet was charged with murder but convicted of only criminal negligence, serving 30 days in jail. However, Longet also accidentally killed her performing career, as the trial publicity left many people thinking she got away with murder.

Natasha Richardson, 2009

Actress NATASHA RICHARDSON had a sad and very strange skiing accident in 2009 at Mont Tremblant, a resort north of Montreal, Canada. Richardson took what seemed like an minor fall during a lesson on the beginner slope. She returned to her hotel, but an hour later developed a headache and was taken to a hospital, where her health quickly failed. She died two days later after her family (including her husband, actor Liam Neeson) removed her from life support. It has been speculated that she was a victim of so-called “talk and die” syndrome, where a brain injury that is not immediately apparent turns fatal a few hours later.

Michael Schumacher

In an accident frighteningly like Natasha Richardson’s, Formula 1 racing legend Michael Schumacher nearly died in a 2013 skiing accident.

On Demcember 29th of that year, Schumacher was skiing in the French Alps, at Dent de Burgin near Méribel, with his 14-year-old son Mick when he fell and hit his head on a rock. Schumacher was wearing a helmet at the time, and was lucid when first aid personnel arrived, but he was quickly airlifted to a local hospital and then sent to the University Hospital of Grenoble. His condition deteriorated rapidly, and he was placed in a medically-induced coma and underwent two different neurosurgeries to relieve pressure on his brain.

Two days later he was still fighting for his life, and doctors descrbied his condition as critical.

Next: Death By Car

James Dean did it. So did Princess Diana.

See our list of very famous people who have endured DEATH BY CAR »

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