Famous people who have died while skiing

In light of Natasha Richardson's death, I got to thinking of Sonny Bono and Michael Kennedy and started wondering, how many famous people have died while skiing? Seems like quite a few. That makes me nervous about skiing myself, but whatchoogonnado? Here's a list of famous people who have, tragically, died on the slopes in the last 15 years:

 2009, Natasha Richardson, 45, actress married to Liam Nelson, died after falling down and suffering a traumatic head injury on a ski slope in Quebec during ski lessons.

 2007, John Fleetwood McWethy, Emmy-award winning journalist, died in Keystone Resort, Colorado, after he took a wrong turn skiing and hit a tree.

 1998, Michel Trudeau, 23, son of the Canadian prime minister, died in an avalanche in British Columbia.

 1998, Sonny Bono, 62, famous singer and mayor of Palm Springs, died after hitting a tree while skiing on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe.

 1998, Doak Walker, NFL Detroit Lions player and Football Hall of Famer, fell and seriously injured himself on Steamboat Ski Resort in Colorado. He later died as a result of those back and head injuries.

 1997, Michael Kennedy, 39, son of Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of JFK, died in Aspen, Colorado after he hit a tree while skiing.

My advice, if you ski, stay away from trees. Not only can you run into them, there are these little-known things called tree wells. Tree wells are areas of loose snow surrounded by very deep snow. If someone falls into this area, it's nearly impossible for them to get out by themselves, According to, this area acts like a form of quicksand. The more a skiier or snowboarder struggles to get out of the snow, the further they fall and usually suffocate trying to get out of the well. California slopes accounted for 19 percent of all tree well injuries in North America, according to the blog.

Also to note, a helmet will only help if you are going 14 mph or less, says the National Ski Areas Association. The best course of action to stay safe on the slopes is always have a buddy; stay hydrated; take ski lessons from a professional, wear a ski helmet; if you fall near a tree, use branches to help yourself up; and if you hit your head for any reason, seek immediate medical treatment. For more safety tips, click here.

Colorado accounts for 17 percent of these kinds of fatalities in North America, trailing British Columbia (24 percent) and California (19 percent).


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