B.C. man dies from freak snowmobile accident, donated organs help 13 people
Shanelle Pierce is conflicted about her husband’s death, how a tragic moment can be a lifesaving blessing for others.
Last month, Trevor Pierce of Williams Lake, B.C., died following a freak accident while trying to load a snowmobile onto a truck for an upcoming trip.
An outdoor enthusiast, the 33-year-old was riding up the ramp when it fell down and then snapped back up, hitting him in the head.
Noting that the accident was akin to stepping on a rake, Shanelle said she was told Trevor was mortally injured. The family asked for a second opinion, and doctors in Kamloops declared him brain dead on Feb. 28.
Five days after that, 13 people benefitted from Trevor’s death via organ transplants. He leaves behind his wife and three children.
“It’s nice to think about how many people got to put their lives back together in a time of tragedy for us,” Shanelle told Global News.
“People who got a kidney, they don’t have to sit with dialysis three days a week for four hours a day.
“They can travel again. Whoever got his heart can … I know someone who received a heart, and they’ve lived another five years so far. It’s amazing what one person can do to help many others.”
In all, Trevor’s heart, liver, eyes, kidneys and pancreas were donated, with the heart and kidneys being rare matches. Eight people benefitted from Trevor’s eyes, with five receiving his organs.
“The transplant doctors said that the fact that my cousin administered CPR maintained the viability of his organs for transplant,” said Shanelle, noting the accident took place at home with their children present.
She also said her husband’s death should come as a warning to those who use ramps to load their snowmobiles.
“While I feel blessed to know that parts of him will live on in others, I want everybody to know that this was a preventable accident,” said Shanelle.
She claims that some sled ramps come with a safety feature, but that they can break off, or that ramps can be re-sold without a safety tie-down feature.
“Everybody must take precautions with these ramps,” said Shanelle. “They must be tied down, every time you use them.”
She continued, saying “please remember my husband and tie down your sled ramps to ensure your family isn’t left without their father, mother, son, daughter.”
In her interview, Shanelle added “my kids’ trampolines have more safety warnings than these ramps. They need to have a warning that if safety features are broken off, then you shouldn’t be using them. And they need to be recommending a secondary tie-down.”
Since her husband’s death, Shanelle said she’s heard from many people who’ve had ramp accidents.
A spokesperson for one B.C. company that produces a variety of recreational products, including truck decks, said this type of accident is rare as “snowmobilers are pretty good at being safe.”
“There are lots of training seminars that go on every single year regarding avalanches and how to be safe out in the mountains,” said Tyler Cameron, vice-president of Marlon Recreation Products.
“There’s not really anything on sled decks. With our company, we try to do videos on how to be safe. One of the terms we always use is ‘smart, safe and secure.’ We’ve done a number of things to our deck to make it safe.
“But I would say, overall, you don’t hear about these things every often.”
He said when loading a sled onto a deck, it’s all about momentum and watching your speed.
“I always stand up on my snowmobile when I’m doing it so you can react quicker,” said Cameron, adding he always wears a helmet while loading. “It’s pretty straightforward, but you’re always looking forward and making sure your skis are pointing straight.”
Cameron also pointed out that the snowmobile’s starting key should be tethered to you, so the sled will turn off should you fall off.
Asked if she ever thought about sled deck safety, or becoming an advocate for that subject before her husband’s death, Shanelle said “absolutely not.”
“A week before his accident, we were talking about the amount of avalanches there’s been this year,” said Shanelle. “He was taking all the precautions he could.
“He’s been loading machines for 10 years plus. He never tied down, no one ever mentioned it, no one ever talks about it. This needs to be talked about. People who are still riding should be aware of the dangers.”
In B.C., more information on organ donation is available on the provincial government’s website.
“Our government and B.C. Transplant are committed to raising awareness and sharing information about the need for organs,” said the Ministry of Health, “so that more lives can be saved and improved, giving more families the precious gift of time with their loved ones.”
“Sign up today,” said Shanelle. “It’s an amazing thing … it’s a hard decision, but if you can take that (decision) away from family members who are grieving, do so, because it is hard to make those decisions in those moments.
“I had time (to decide) but not everybody gets that time to really think about things. If you can take that away from your family, that’s one less thing they have to think about.
“Trevor touched 13 different people when he left this world. And that is an amazing thing.”