Haines heliski business penalized over safety record

Alaska Heliskiing, the Haines outfitter whose permit was renewed recently despite having broken local and state laws and its own safety plan and having lost a guide and client to an avalanche last year, has had its allotted "skier days" cut 25 percent for the season, reports the Chilkat Valley News.  The decision was "based on safety record," Haines Borough Manager Mark Earnest said. Neither the company nor the dead client's mother are happy with the decision.

Sean Brownell, co-owner of Alaska Heliskiing, wrote in an email to the CVN that he was displeased with Earnest’s decision but will not appeal it.

“I don’t agree with the decision and think it’s unfair, but if it is the will of the public and that is what the borough has decided for me, I will graciously accept what I’ve been given and hope for the best,” Brownell wrote.

Natalia Dodov, whose son died in the 2012 avalanche, said the borough penalty does nothing to address underlying safety issues in the Haines heliski industry.

“How many accidents or deaths would (the borough) need before they implemented changes more than a penalty in terms of skier days? Will someone ever change something? Try to change something? We really want improved safety standards,” Dodov said in an interview.

Read more at the Chilkat Valley News: Alaska Heliskiing loses 350 skier days