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Mother of champion water-skier, 20, who died after crashing head-first at 130km/h fears more deaths

Tania Teelow (pictured) lost her 20-year-old daughter to a water skiing accident, saying: ‘It’s been a hard four-and-a-half years’

A mother fighting to make professional water skiing safer after her daughter died during competition says the regulatory body ‘hasn’t picked the phone up’ four years since the fatal accident.

Tania Teelow tragically lost her 20-year-old daughter Sarah when her helmet came off during a high-speed crash.

She is still reeling from the loss and says not enough has been done since to protect competitors.

‘Not a day goes by that I don’t cry and miss her. She’s my girl,’ Ms Teelow said after a coroner’s inquest concluded on Thursday. 

Helmet specifications and the speed at which she was racing – both factors considered in the coroner’s inquest – still remain unsafe, Ms Teelow said. 

She told 9 News she was happy to work with Ski Racing Australia in a continued attempt to push for changes in the sport.

But ‘they haven’t picked the phone up since the day Sarah died,’ she said.  

 

Four years after Tania Teelow tragically lost her 20-year-old daughter Sarah (pictured) to a water skiing accident when her helmet came off, she is still calling for changes to the sport

Four years after Tania Teelow tragically lost her 20-year-old daughter Sarah (pictured) to a water skiing accident when her helmet came off, she is still calling for changes to the sport

Sarah died when she came off her skis during a competition where she was travelling at about 130km/h on the Hawkesbury River north of Sydney.

The inquest into her death found her helmet had come off shortly after she made initial contact with the water. 

She received critical head and neck injuries which forced her parents to switch off her life-support machine just one day later.

Acting State Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan called for improvements to helmet and personal flotation device specifications. 

She made a number of recommendations for the sport’s governing body, Ski Racing Australia, including speed restrictions in some events, helmets and flotation devices specific to water skiers, and inspection of all competitor’s safety equipment.

Ms Teelow said there was still ‘lots of inadequacies and shortfalls’ in the sport

Sarah died when she came off her skis travelling at around 130km/h on the Hawkesbury River north of Sydney with an inquest finding her helmet came off shortly after she made initial contact with the water

Sarah died when she came off her skis travelling at around 130km/h on the Hawkesbury River north of Sydney with an inquest finding her helmet came off shortly after she made initial contact with the water

Ms Teelow, a former two-time world champion water skier herself, says the recommendations aren’t enough and that the culture of the industry needed to change.

Sarah's death follows six racing deaths since 2010. Her mother thinks the speed restrictions aren't enough

Sarah’s death follows six racing deaths since 2010. Her mother thinks the speed restrictions aren’t enough

She said the speed restrictions were inadequate and current helmets designed for land-based sports should be swapped for helmets purpose-built for water skiing.

Ski Racing Australia said safety was a priority.

‘As the peak body and regulator of the sport we take the safety of all of our competitors very seriously,’ the industry body said in a statement.  

‘We are regularly reviewing rules to provide a safe environment in the sport.’

Some changes, including banning the helmet Sarah wore when she died, have been implemented since the coroner made recommendations. 

Sarah’s death follows six racing fatals since 2010.

It was due to critical head and neck injuries that Sarah died, forcing her parents to switch off her life-support machine just one day later

It was due to critical head and neck injuries that Sarah died, forcing her parents to switch off her life-support machine just one day later

 



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