VANCOUVER — North Vancouver RCMP are looking for witnesses to an incident on the Grouse Mountain slopes that left a teenage boy with a traumatic brain injury.
On March 30, just before 7 p.m., 13-year-old Max Keir was skiing down a wide run known as The Cut when he swerved to avoid another skier, believed to be an adult male. He avoided the collision but was struck in the head by the man’s ski pole.
The tip of the pole punctured Max’s skull, leaving a bullet-sized hole through his temporal bone.
“He thrust the pole with such significant force that it went all the way through his skull and into his brain,” David Keir, Max’s father, said during a news conference at the North Vancouver RCMP detachment Wednesday.
Max, unaware of the seriousness of the injury, managed to complete his run down the mountain. The injury was noticed by an unidentified woman who offered help. The teen was picked up by his parents and taken to Lions Gate Hospital, where he was treated for a laceration on his cheek and then released.
It was only later that his family realized something was seriously wrong with Max. With his son acting dazed and agitated at home, Keir and his wife took Max back to Lions Gate, where a CT scan revealed the extent of his injury.
“[The pole] went through the skin … it went through the fascia on top of the bone and it went through the temporal bone, which is a big, thick part of the skull. It went through the membranes that protect the brain and it went into the right temporal lobe of the brain by a distance of about three centimetres,” Keir said. “When the doctor on call showed me the CT scan and I saw the fragments, I saw the hole in his skull and I saw the pool of blood on his brain … you freak out as a parent.”
Max was then taken by ambulance to B.C. Children’s Hospital.
David doesn’t blame the emergency doctors at Lions Gate for sending Max home with just a few stitches.
“The accountability is with the parents to know your children and know that something is wrong,” he said.
“[At Lions Gate] he wasn’t presenting any of the symptoms that we observed later. We advocated for Max because we recognized something was wrong. We got the CT scan … and through that it was quickly diagnosed as a traumatic brain injury.”
RCMP said they haven’t been able to gather enough evidence to determine whether the contact was intentional or accidental.
North Van RCMP said they have exhausted “all available investigational avenues” and are appealing to witnesses — including the adult skier involved in the incident — to come forward.
“We want to speak with the kind woman who helped the young man. We want to speak with anyone who saw what happened. We also are asking the skier who was involved in this incident to do the right thing and come forward. Lastly, we are asking anyone who knows the adult skier involved to please contact us,” said North Vancouver RCMP Sgt. Peter Devries. The only description police have of the adult skier is that he was wearing a yellow ski jacket.