School student dies in sledging crash

An 18-year-old man died in northern Sweden on Saturday after he went down a ski slope using a protective mattress as a sledge.

The accident happened on a slalom slope in Björnrike, around sixty kilometres from Sveg in north-western Sweden.

The man was part of a group of 40 school students on a trip to the resort. Early on Saturday morning, seven of the youngsters got up and went to the slopes, where they took two protective mattresses. These were then used as toboggans by the 18-year-old and two others. The three collided with a tree.

“We believe that they were travelling at 80 kilometres per hour. They hit the tree at high speed,” said Michael Lundberg, spokesman for Östesund police.

The youngsters and paramedics tried to revive the young man at the scene, but he could not be saved. Police say he sustained serious head injuries. The other young people were not injured, but were said to be in shock.

Using protective mattresses as sledges is forbidden under the lift operators’ rules, but it is not yet clear whether police intend to investigate the incident further.

Since 1989 there have been eight deaths in similar circumstances, including Saturday’s accident. The accidents often happen at night, with the victims using plastic sacks, mattresses or small sledges.