Concussion scare sparks call for change at Harbour Grace rink

Nicholas Mercer
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Victoria family wants mandatory helmet policy in Harbour Grace

Six inches is that stands between this story and something completely different.

Photo by Nicholas Mercer/The Compass
Chris (left) and Kim Janes are calling for the Town of Harbour Grace to implement a mandatory helmet policy for anyone who sets foot on the ice at the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium. This comes after their son Taylor fell into the boards and suffered a serious head injury early last month.

Victoria’s Taylor Janes and a few of his buddies took to the ice for a general skate at the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace on Dec. 6. It’s a fairly regular activity for the group.

On one lap around the ice Taylor took off for the boards, but he lost his footing and flew headlong into the boards, slamming his head on both the boards and the ice.

Taylor was rushed to Carbonear General Hospital, where it was learned the 16-year-old suffered a severe concussion, a trio of brain bleeds and some soft tissue damage behind his right ear.

Here’s the catch. Taylor was not wearing a helmet when he crashed into the sideboards at the stadium.

Six inches to the left and he hits the open gate. That happens and the possibility is that this is a different story.

Instead, it’s a story about a young man whose injuries might have been protected had he been wearing a helmet. The concussion may have been unavoidable, but the severity of it could have been reduced.

“He was only in hospital three days and he is doing well,” said mother Kim Janes. “He had his check up. The doctor would like to see him get back on skates this week to see how he is going to respond to the movements.

“We were told there could be repercussion of this months down the road.”

“When you think about it, your mind goes to what could have been,” said Chris Janes, his father. “All (Taylor) says is, ‘I’m getting better.’”

While he is progressing, Taylor still must undergo monthly checkups with doctors in St. John’s. He can begin skating again, but hockey is out of the question for another three weeks.

“Now, while yes he is back in school and he is doing well and he’s not showing any signs of going backwards, what could we be dealing with this time next month?” Kim wondered.

“We don’t know how long this will go on,” added Chris.

Now, his parents are looking for the higher ups with the Town of Harbour Grace to reconsider their current helmet policy in favour of making it a mandatory for skaters to wear them.

After Taylor’s injury, his parents reached out to the town to see what policy was in place and to see if they could get it changed to a mandatory one.

The response they received was that the town would not be changing its policy from recommends to mandatory. It’s a decision that does not make much sense to the Janes.

“Why would you not want a policy in place that could protect somebody’s brain?” said Kim.

“Not only the brain, but somebody’s life,” said Chris. “We’re six inches away from this being a different story.”

Stadiums differ

As it stands now, the current policy recommends that stadium users wear the proper protective equipement when using the facility. However, they are not required to wear one when they hit the ice.

Recommend is the key word there. The Trinity-Placentia Stadium in Whitbourne has a similar policy in place.

Meanwhile, stadiums in Bay Roberts and Placentia make it mandatory for anyone going on the ice to wear a helmet. The Town of Bonavista recently implemented a mandatory policy at its stadium.

The stadiums that do not have it — including Harbour Grace – point to the difficulties in enforcing the policy and the fear of being liable if one person without a helmet slips through the cracks.

What the Janes family wants sounds simple enough.

“We’re looking for a policy change and formal response,” said Chris.

Barnes said he has reached out to the family in light of what happened to Taylor. In a conversation with The Compass, the mayor expressed sympathy for what happened and what the young man continues to go through.

The subject of mandatory helmet wearing is one that has come up in the past in Harbour Grace. Legal council has advised them that what they have in place now is adequate.

“We prefer that everyone wear a helmet but it is not mandatory,” said Barnes.

The Janes, who have two other children, now enforce their own helmet rules every time one their kids hit the ice, whether it is a pond, rink or otherwise.

“You think it’s not going to happen, but then it happens to your child and all of a sudden you want to protect the world,” said Kim.

Organizations: Carbonear General Hospital, Town of Harbour Grace, The Compass

Geographic location: Harbour Grace, Victoria, S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium Trinity-Placentia Stadium Whitbourne Bay Roberts Placentia Bonavista

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Recent comments

  • Chad
    January 20, 2016 - 09:16

    Well said, particularly the last sentence regarding what Kim had said. This policy should have been changed a long time ago, not only to prevent an accident but to prove that our town cares for the people living here. It feels as though nothing is changed until someone is severely hurt, or worse* Killed. Not only the stadium, but for all other potentially hazadarous environments.. Why?

  • Masterwatch
    January 19, 2016 - 11:08

    Don't parents have this responsibility?

  • Parent1
    January 19, 2016 - 10:50

    Why is it that the stadium is being held accountable for the person's actions? If that same child, who is old enough to have a drivers permit, goes driving daddy's vehicle and writes it off and he is NOT wearing a seat belt, WHo is accountable then? Dept of Highways? RCMP? The town where the accident took place? Yes I agree that helmets need to be worn more, even on a peddle Nike, but you teach your child to do these things, and you pray that every time they goes through the door that they do the right thing, but some times Mom and dad, the kid is going to do whatever it is they want to do! Sometimes they knows it all! Some times they did it all before and got away with it! So why not just one more time!!!! Stop blaming the town! Stop blaming the stadium! Stop blaming others, start educating yourselves and your ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.....

    • Kim Janes
      January 19, 2016 - 18:00

      Hi, it's not about "blame", and the only thing we want to do is protect the next child, teenager, or adult who thinks it's ok to skate without a helmet...and takes the chance. This could happen to anyone, any age. It's not an outrageous request....nor is it a foreign policy, many stadiums in our province have already seen the importance, unfortunately one of those arenas had to see a child die on the ice. But thanks for your opinion to which everyone is entitled!

  • mom of three
    January 19, 2016 - 10:45

    Common sense should factor in to this somewhere! Helmets have been mandatory in hockey for the past few years, didn't anyone wonder why? Parents should make sure their child is safe and properly protected during specific sports, but, at 16 years of age, I think the onus was on the young man!

  • Parent
    January 19, 2016 - 09:07

    So at 16 this teenager still needs mom and dad to tell him to wear a helmet on the ice. Seriously, how is this s town issue, this is common sense and not newsworthy at all. If he watches the NHL they all have unless he was figure skating than that is a different story.

    • Kim Janes
      January 19, 2016 - 18:11

      Hi, it's not about mom and dad telling him anything; this could happen to a 55 year old who doesn't see the necessity in a they fall and we just look and say it's their own damn fault and walk away? Not me, a mandatory helmet policy would protect those in my life and yours. Thanks for your opinion, to which we are all entitled!

  • Wanda
    January 19, 2016 - 08:18

    I don't understand why the parents are putting the blame on the arena for THEIR child not wearing a helmet. It is not the rink's responsibility to enforce responsible parenting. If that child is not wearing a helmet that's on the parents and no one else. Far too many people/parents are always looking for a way to blame someone else for their irresponsible shortcomings. The rink never gave birth to their child, they did. The parents need to look in the mirror and say 'WE should've forced our child to wear a helmet because those are OUR rules'. It shouldn't matter what the rink rules are it's the parents rules that can overrule.

    • Angie smith
      February 03, 2016 - 11:01

      I don't believe the Jane's are looking to place blame on anyone but actually trying to encourage making helmet use at arenas a norm so that you are the exception to the rule if you don't wear a helmet skating. At the Newfoundland Brain injury association, we support this effort. At one time kids did not wear helmets on bikes, or seatbelts or use car seats. But as a society who knows better it is a simple step in placing the onus on the individual to take better care of their heads. Making it policy simply encourages that to become a norm. Statistics actually show that compliancy with any helmet use decreases with age. Meaning our youngest children see it as essential where as our older citizens still see it as an option. We could learn something from the Jane's experience and from the youngest children. For more info on the consequences of brain injuries follow our Facebook, twitter and website.

  • JOEM
    January 19, 2016 - 08:15

    I think last year I remember hearing about a coach that slipped down on the way to the bench and had a serious head injury. If I am not mistaken, I think a member of the coaching staff wrote a letter to the town and requested to have doors installed on the benches so it could be accessed from the bleachers. I think one door got installed on the visitors bench and the response was it was to costly to install one on the home bench. Hard to believe that the Council now think they have the authority to put a value on peoples safety. I know that a lot of you are arrogant and know very little about the stadium, or even where it is but it seems it goes back to the incompetence of the elected officials of the Historic Town of Hr, Grace. Less than 2 years and we will be able to get rid of these so called politicians who like to do nothing more than tweet, post facebook posts and have numerous meetings about nothing of any importance. I am very anxious to get to the polls and put these so called politicians out the door.