After crash on slope, skiers now vie in court
Career derailed, model alleges
By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff | June 29, 2005
It was so cold that Monday morning in January that Sarah Walker, a 23-year-old ski instructor and aspiring model, had an expert slope to herself as she skied down Loon Mountain in Lincoln, N.H., practicing her jumps.
But as Walker came over a crest on the Board Park trail, she said, a 14-year-old girl was skiing across her path, leaving her with no chance to avoid a violent collision that she said has changed her life.
''All I saw was somebody darting in front of me," said Walker, who couldn't remember the collision on Jan. 27, 2003, but recalled fumbling in the snow for her front teeth, which had penetrated her lip and been knocked out in the fall. Her knee cap was also fractured.
While skiing accidents rarely end up in court, Walker filed a negligence suit against the girl, Megan Lowry of Boxford, and her parents, Daniel and Nancy Lowry, that is being tried this week before a jury in US District Court in Boston. The Lowrys counter that Walker is to blame for the accident because she was skiing too fast and went airborne before the collision.
Walker alleges that Lowry, who had been skiing on another trail, is at fault because she should have seen Walker coming down the trail and yielded. She is seeking damages for her injuries, as well as for lost income for her failed modeling career.
The accident, according to Walker, has ruined her chances of modeling by leaving her with a scar on her lip, a limp, and low self-esteem.
After Walker's lawyers finished presenting their case yesterday, US District Magistrate Judge Robert Collings dismissed Walker's claim that Lowry's parents were negligent, noting that they were on the slope supervising their children at the time. Jurors are set to hear final arguments in the case today, and then begin deliberating over whether Megan Lowry was negligent.
Taking the stand yesterday, Lowry, a slender, soft-spoken teenager, now 16, said she was knocked unconscious for several minutes by the collision with Walker and told jurors that she couldn't remember what happened. But, she said, she was an advanced skier, who always looked uphill before crossing a trail.
Her brother, Christopher, now 14, who was snowboarding behind her, pointed the blame for the accident at Walker. He testified that as he was about to follow his sister across the trail, he looked up and saw Walker come over the crest with her skis about 5 inches off the ground.
''She was going really fast," said Christopher Lowry, adding that Walker was airborne and ''then she landed and she crashed into my sister."
The boy's testimony contradicted that of Thomas Sutton Jr., a skiing expert from Lincoln, N.H., who was hired by the plaintiff. He testified that based on incident reports, he believed that Megan Lowry caused the accident and that Walker's skis didn't leave the ground before the two collided.
Walker, who is in her second semester at Cleveland State University, studying business marketing, testified that she had completed two jumps on the slope but that she was not in the air when she collided with Lowry.
Boston lawyer Evan Slavitt, who represents Walker, told jurors during opening statements, ''The responsiblity was on Megan to avoid the collision."
But the Lowrys' lawyer, Lawrence J. Kenney Jr. of Boston, told jurors, ''The first rule for skiers is to maintain control. Sarah Walker . . . chose to go airborne and lost control."
Walker testified that she had signed a one-year contract with the Dynasty Modeling Agency in Boston three months before the accident, but is no longer able to get a job because of the scar on her face and her inability to stand for long periods or wear high heels.
''I just don't look the same," said Walker, who broke into tears. However, Walker acknowledged during cross-examination that during the three months that she was under contract with Dynasty before her accident, she had not been offered any modeling jobs.
Joseph Freeman, the owner and director of Dynasty Modeling agency, agreed that although he believed that Walker was ''a good, solid model" who once had the potential to earn $10,000 to $20,000, he no longer believed she could make it in the business.
© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.
bullshit if you ask me