Icy conditions were blamed for the death of a Howard County teenager and the hospitalization of at least two other youngsters in three sledding accidents.
Grief counselors were at Glenelg High School yesterday to assist those who knew junior Ryan Conley, who was fatally injured while sledding on his family farm in western Howard.
Ryan, 16, was riding down a 1,000-foot hill on a plastic sled about noon Monday when he hit a bump and went airborne. He crashed into a steep ravine, hit a tree and suffered severe trauma, said William Mould, a spokesman for Howard County Fire and Rescue.
"He went into a creek bed," Mould said.
Ryan's sister, who was also sledding, ran to the family's house to tell their mother. Within 35 minutes of receiving the call for help, an emergency crew from the fire station in Lisbon had responded, and rescuers used ropes and pulleys to lift the boy, Mould said.
The teenager was taken by state police helicopter to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where he later died.
About 3:30 p.m., emergency workers from the same Lisbon firehouse responded to a call across the Carroll County line and helped get an unidentified 11-year-old boy with a leg injury airlifted to a hospital, emergency officials from the two counties said.
Then, at 6:30 p.m., a crew from the Lisbon station answered the third call of the day involving a sledding accident, this time to the Woodbine home of 10-year-old Robert Mason.
"Those poor guys," said Robert's mother, Lisa Mason. "They were just fantastic."
She said her son had fallen while sledding with a friend but had not seemed badly hurt. When he became nauseous at dinnertime, however, his parents worried that he might have suffered a more serious injury.
Robert was transported by helicopter to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where he remained under observation yesterday.
"Traditionally, sledding is thought to be a great way to enjoy the snow," county Fire Chief Joseph A. Herr said in a statement yesterday. "But due to the cold temperatures and icy conditions associated with our last storm, sledding has become extremely dangerous in our area."
Elizabeth Olivera, a doctor at Howard County General Hospital, added, "The most serious injuries we've seen so far have been head injuries, so we encourage people to consider using helmets, especially for younger children."