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Safety Urged After Dassel Sled Death

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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DASSEL, Minn. (WCCO) - A day on the sledding hill had a tragic end for one Dassel family. A 10-year-old girl died when her sled hit a stump Thursday afternoon at her grandparents’ house.

The girl was visiting from out of state and was being watched by adults when the accident happened.

With this fresh coating of snow and school still out, many kids will be bringing their sleds out to the hills around their homes. It’s a day of fun, where you don’t always think of the risk. But the accident in Dassel shows that sledding can be extremely dangerous.

The snow covered hills in Dassel tend to lure anyone with a sled. But at a home on 700th Avenue, a day of zipping down the slopes ended with the unthinkable.

Meeker County Sheriff Jeff Norlin says these types of accidents are rare.

“We don’t get a lot of accidents like this but when we do it’s very tough, especially when we’re dealing with young people,” Norlin said.

While sledding deaths are rare in Meeker County, sledding accidents are not uncommon around the state.

In the last couple of weeks, at least 12 people have been treated for injuries at metro area hospitals. Recent rain left a layer of ice on the snow-packed hills and created very slick conditions.

“I don’t think people take that into consideration, and I think you can pick up some pretty good speed,” Norlin said.

Speeds can reach up to 20 miles per hour with little possibility brake or stop. It’s a potential accident that’s gotten the attention of Children’s Hospital and Minneapolis Police who handed out free helmets.

Kristi Moline of Children’s Hospital and Clinics says safety is the message.

“There are safe ways to sled and one of the messages that we’re bringing is to wear helmets sledding – and a simple bike helmet will do,” Moline said.

Of all the parks in Minneapolis, there are only two designated sledding hills because they have no obstructions, like trees or streams.

The best piece of sledding safety advice is to make sure your pathway is clear.

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