Girl hurt at ski area released from hospital

Late December accident leads to multiple pelvis, facial fractures

Lucero Enlarge photo


A 12-year-old girl who skied into a tree last month at Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort was released this week from an Albuquerque hospital after suffering multiple pelvis and facial fractures, her mother said Wednesday.

Patricia Lucero of Albuquerque was skiing on an intermediate trail known as Legends when she caught an edge and slammed into a tree, said Johanna Lucero, the girl’s mother.

The crash occurred about 10:20 a.m. Dec. 27.

“It was just an accident,” Johanna Lucero said in a phone interview. “She remembers the whole thing. She lost control and tried to correct herself, and her ski caught and flipped her left into a tree.”

Patricia has undergone facial surgery, and she is expected to make a full recovery, her mother said. She has some face-swelling, but no disfigurement, Lucero said.

Patricia has been skiing since she was 3.

She was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, which her mother credits with preventing a brain injury.

“Her helmet appears to be undamaged, but we know from her injuries that she had a very significant blow to her face – to her head – and her brain is fine,” Lucero said. “So I’ve got to believe it did some protecting.”

Purgatory ski patrol put her on a sled and took her to the bottom of chairlift 3, also known as Hermosa Park Express, where a medical helicopter was waiting. She was taken to Mercy Regional Medical Center before being flown to a Level 1 trauma center in Albuquerque in critical condition.

Lucero thanked the ski patrol at Purgatory, the helicopter crew and the emergency room doctor who treated Patricia before she was flown to Albuquerque.

“They were fantastic,” she said. “They completely knew what they were doing every step of the way.”

Lucero said she has skied at Purgatory for 40 years, and she doesn’t blame the ski resort in any way for the accident.

“This was just a freak accident,” she said. “You can’t fence every single tree. It was just an accident.”

The incident has convinced her that it is best to ski with companions and to wear a helmet, she said.

Patricia didn’t want to wear her helmet the day of the crash because it fits a little too tight, Lucero said, but her mother made her wear it.

“She’s a very, very intelligent, bright, happy 12-year-old girl,” Lucero said. “We’ll get through it. We’re just lucky that we had all the people that we did.

“She already says she’s going to ski again.”

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