Pasco County snow tubing accident likened to ‘car accident,’ witness says

Pasco County

DADE CITY, Fla. (WFLA) — Geri Yates said her trip to Snowcat Ridge on Christmas Eve was not the start to the holiday weekend her family expected.

“It feels like we were in a car accident,” she told 8 On Your Side.

Yates said she had to see her doctor Monday back home in Okeechobee because of the “bumps and bruises” she got after Friday’s accident involving a snow tube.

“It was all a blur,” Yates said. “It went very fast and then you look around and everyone is laying on the ground in different places.”

Along with her husband and two children, Yates said she was in the same tube as the adult woman who had to be flown from the snow park to the hospital with serious injuries. Pasco Fire Rescue said another adult and child also suffered minor injuries.

According to Yates, the raft, with seven people seated inside, peeled off from the bottom part that makes it slide down the slope.

“The bottom was further up the hill,” she said, “like it seems when we hit, it tore off and the rest of us and the raft kept going and then we proceeded to flip.”

WFLA News Channel 8 reached out Snowcat Ridge for comment about the snow tube accident that injured multiple visitors.

“At Snowcat Ridge, the safety of our guests is always a top priority,” marketing director Jon Pianki said in a statement. “Our onsite safety and security team will continue to work closely with the Pasco Fire Rescue.”

Yates said she knew there would be risk involved, but three days later, she is still shaken up.

“Our expectations were one thing and we wound up getting something totally different,” Yates said. “My scariest moment was looking over and seeing a woman in size similar to myself unconscious on the ground on what was supposed to be a fun day.”

Since opening in 2020 as Florida’s very first snow park, Snowcat Ridge has had trouble producing enough snow. The park also temporarily shut down for safety code violations after Pasco County inspectors found building, plumbing and electrical problems

When the park reopened in November for the 2021 season, co-owner and CEO Benjamin Nagengast told 8 On Your Side they spent considerable time, effort and money during the off-season to overcome the past issues.

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