The parents of a 12-year-old boy are calling for an urgent law change to prevent further other families experiencing the same tragedy.

Louis Watkiss was attending a friend’s tobogganing birthday party at the Snowdome in Tamworth in September last year when he was involved in a collision that proved to be fatal on his first run down the slope.

Louis had followed the instructions provided to him but collided with a member of staff on the slope who then fell on him. Louis died as a result of his injuries which were a basal fracture of his skull and whiplash. It is believed that he died instantly.

Louis’ parents want ‘Louis’ Law’ to be implemented to make it mandatory for all minors to wear helmets when involved with indoor snow activities. A post-mortem examination showed the 12 year old would have survived the incident had he been wearing one.

And it would seem that their hope for this law is now one step closer after their local MP, Andrew Mitchell, confirmed that he has written to minister, Nadine Dorries requesting the law change. He has said that Louis’ death was ‘wholly avoidable’. Mr Mitchell’s letter stated:-

“Louis’ injuries proved fatal because he was not wearing a helmet. The coroner’s verdict confirms that there is little doubt a helmet would have saved his life. In this sense Louis’ death was not only tragic, but wholly avoidable. I believe that, in the wake of this tragedy, there may be a case for a change in the law to mandate the wearing of helmets for children at indoor ski venues.”

Meanwhile, the police investigations into the incident are ongoing and it is hoped that a decision will be released soon. A spokeswoman for Staffordshire Police said:-

“Staffordshire Police is continuing to robustly investigate the circumstances with support from the Health and Safety Executive. Family liaison officers remain in place to support Louis’ family.”

Since the incident, tobogganing has been banned at the Snowdome until the Health and Safety Executive is satisfied that the risks can be managed. It is understood that helmets are now compulsory at the Snowdome but it is still not a legal requirement. Louis’ parents have said that the implementation of such a law change could be his “legacy”.

The importance of helmets in a variety of sporting activities is something that the brain injury charity, Headway, regularly highlights. Every year they arrange ‘Hats for Headway’ to raise vital funds for the charity whilst highlighting the importance of protecting your head and brain, especially when engaging in sporting activities. In 2018 they published their findings on the impact of helmet use on the risk of head injury. The results of this research suggested that “in recreational athletes who sustain a head injury, helmet use is associated with a reduced risk of hospitalisation” across all sports.

Therefore, we hope that Louis’ Law is successful in its campaign to improve the safety of children taking part in similar indoor snow activities, as Louis was.

We can help

Our Head of Department, John Knight, has a son who suffered a traumatic brain injury, and he is also a Trustee for Headway Lincolnshire, so this subject is very close to his and the Departments heart.

For further information on Headway and brain/head injuries please call 01522 561020 or email wecanhelp@ringroselaw.co.uk

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