The Department of Well-Being and Safety has shut down the Otter Ice Slide for an “indefinite period of time” after a tragic accident occurred there on Wednesday afternoon.
In a statement issued this morning, the Department confirmed that an ongoing investigation into the accident suffered by Boldizsar Vidra was the reason for closing the Ice Slide, which had just opened for the season on January 6.
“We are currently investigating the circumstances of the accident that occurred on the Otter Ice Slide on Wednesday, January 9, 2013. Until such time as the investigation has concluded and we have determined the cause, the Slide will remain closed for use,” the statement said.
According to witness accounts, Vidra was lying on his back, travelling at a high speed down the Slide, when he became aware that his coat was stuck to the Slide’s ice.
“He was screaming, begging for help, but no one could help him until he stopped,” said one witness. Approximately three-quarters of the way down the slide, several other Sliders were able to lift him off the ice. By that time, the Elephant Emergency Brigade (EEB) had arrived and Vidra was transferred to the Park Hospital for the Afflicted and Infirm, where he remains in critical condition.
“There was so much blood,” said another witness. “Parts of his coat were just ripped off and stuck to the Slide.”
The Slide, which operates annually from January 6 until March 13, is the favourite recreational venue of The Park’s Otter families. It is not unusual for Otters and their young to spend an entire day at the Slide. This year, the Slide saw a 600% rise in attendance during its first three days. This increase has been attributed to the fact that the Slide experienced a very short season in 2012, when it was shut down in mid-February because unseasonably warm temperatures caused it to melt.
The DWBS is believed to be investigating the conditions of the Slide between the evening of January 8 and the afternoon of January 9. The accident occurred at 3:15 on January 9. Several witnesses at the scene said a partial melt had occurred in the early hours of the afternoon.
Prior to the Slide’s official opening, The Park’s Weather Office (PWO) issued a statement indicating that the venue would remain open for the entirety of the regular season.
A source close to the PWO, however, who wishes to remain anonymous, told The Mammalian Daily that, privately, the PWO has had concerns about the lifespan of the Slide for several years.
“With all the cutbacks in The Park, the PWO has been fighting, but not winning, a battle to get sufficient funding for Winter weather,” the source said.
The last several years have seen increasingly warm temperatures in The Park and many believe it is due to the cutbacks in the budget.
“If we don’t act on this problem right away,” said the source, “there will come a time when we have only three seasons in The Park.”