Concussion scare sparks call for change at Harbour Grace rink

Victoria family wants mandatory helmet policy in Harbour Grace

Nicholas Mercer
Published on January 19, 2016
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.

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

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.