Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Investigation into YMCA accident continues

Climbing wall remains open

Express Staff Writer

Details of an accident that sent 21-year-old Curtis Hopfenbeck tumbling 30 feet to the base of the Wood River YMCA climbing wall have yet to be determined, according to Teresa Beahen, CEO of the YMCA in Ketchum.

The accident, which took place on Friday, Jan. 25, resulted in six cracked vertebrae for Hopfenbeck and a number of questions about what caused the accident that have so far gone unanswered.

Beahen said she is awaiting a report, but is not at liberty to discuss any of the details of the accident, as recommended by the YMCA's attorney. She did not say when the investigation would be completed.

Likewise, Paul Hopfenbeck, the victim's father, said the family's attorney has also instructed them to keep details under wraps until the situation is worked out.

Beahen said the climbing wall has remained open, except for the route that Curtis fell from last month.

After Curtis fell, the YMCA staff called an ambulance, which transported him to St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center.

The YMCA, like other fitness center managers, employs waivers and releases, risk management services and liability insurance.

YMCA of USA requires that members and guests sign a waiver releasing the 168-year-old organization from responsibility in case of an accident and agreeing not to sue "on account of injury to the person or property or resulting in death."

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