Credit: Yolanda Andrade via GoFundMe

Last Friday, a Colorado family experienced an unbearable tragedy. 10-year-old Ayleen Herrera passed away after a freak sledding accident took her life.

According to Colorado State Police, Herrera’s father was pulling Ayleen and three other children on sleds from his Ford F-250 truck.

The report described the road they were sledding on as a “snow-packed, icy roadway”. After one of the other children fell off their sled, Herrera’s father stopped the vehicle. It was then that Ayleen “lost control” of her sled and slid “into the rear of the Ford, struck the undercarriage, and slid underneath the Ford.” She died shortly after. According to the state police, drugs and alcohol were not involved in the accident and no charges have been filed.

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Needless to say, the family is distraught. It’s horrifying that something as fun and innocent as a sledding outing over Thanksgiving weekend could turn into such a life-altering tragedy.

The little girl’s grandmother set up a GoFundMe page to help with funeral costs and medical bills.

Credit: Yolanda Andrade via GoFundMe

“It is with deep sorrow that we share the sad news that our beloved Ayleen has been called by the Lord. My daughter Claudia and my son-in-law Jose have lost one of their daughters in a tragic accident on November 27, 2020,” wrote Yolanda Andrade. “Their hearts are broken as they have lost a little angel at such a young age.”

Andrade went on to describe how difficult it will be for the family to face the holidays without their 10-year-old daughter. “I’m reaching out to our family, friends, and our community to raise funds to help this family with the cost of the funeral and medical bills as they sadly navigate into the holiday season without one of their little angels by their side.”

Unfortunately, sledding accidents like this are all too common.

As we go into the winter months, it’s paramount that we all remember that winter sports and activities, although fun, should be approached with safety first in mind. Snow, ice, and bitter cold are volatile conditions that can be dangerous for young children.

According to the Mayo Clinic, 25,000 children under age 15 are seen in the emergency department for sledding injuries each year. Some of the injuries are severe. According to one University of Michigan study that observed 52 children at a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center over eight years, 37% of these children’s sledding injuries were head injuries.

The best way to prevent sledding injuries is to control the environment you’re sledding in and wear protective gear.

According to Mayo Clinic’s injury prevention coordinator Kimberley J. Lombard, you should also buy sleds with steering and brake devices. Scouting for sledding locations that are free of rocks, trees, and ditches can also guard against injuries. Stay safe out there!