It was Christmas Eve 2010. The Johnson family—Kelli, Chauncy and their three children, Elise, 5, Milli, 3, and Logan, 4 months—headed to their local two-lift ski hill, the 60-acre Hogadon Basin Ski Area outside Casper, Wyoming.
Kelli, who was once a ski instructor, went with Elise to ski a run, working with her to make turns. At one point, Kelli and Elise had stopped to put her ski back on. It was then that a 23-year-old local snowboarder, out-of-control, collided with Elise and her mom. He was going 50 mph.
The 5-year-old broke her neck and was killed instantly. The snowboarder died on impact. Kelli suffered a traumatic brain injury and was in a coma for several weeks, learning her daughter passed away only upon waking.
“Our life will always be divided into two sections: the life before the accident, and now our life after the accident,” Kelli says.
To keep their daughter’s legacy alive, the Johnsons initiated a partnership with the National Ski Areas Association to launch the safety campaign, #RideAnotherDay, to curb irresponsible behavior on the mountain. (Read the three tenets of the initiative below.) They hope putting a face—their daughter’s—on the message will drive it home. The Johnsons shared their story in a video produced by media partner Catapult Creative Labs, part of Active Interest Media (which owns SKI). Ads feature a childless snow angel, and the words: “She was 5. You were doing 50.”
Kelli and Chauncy are clear that they don’t hold anger toward the snowboarder, who paid the ultimate price. “It truly was an accident, and it was an accident that could have been prevented,” Kelli says.
The three tenets of #RideAnotherDay
1. Be Ready: Slow down or be ready to slow down and avoid objects or other people. Be sure you can control yourself no matter the conditions.
2. Stay Alert: Know who and what is around you, especially skiers and other riders, and be aware of changing conditions.
3. Plan Ahead: If you’re unfamiliar with the terrain, don’t go full-bore. Take it easy, learn the run and make notes where you might want to slow down next time.
Learn more about #RideAnotherDay at nsaa.org.