“Wear a helmet while skiing or snowboarding” is the message the mother of a girl who suffered a concussion while skiing at Ferguson Ridge Ski Area would like to get out.

Ella Coughlan, 11, the daughter of Cheryl and Brian Coughlan of Joseph, was skiing at a busy Fergi Sunday afternoon when she fell while taking a jump too fast and went out of control.

She hit her head during the crash and was taken to Wallowa Memorial Hospital by ambulance.

“She has a mild concussion, whiplash and a very bruised leg,” Cheryl Coughlan said. “I’m very relieved she is OK.”

The lesson they learned, she said, is to always wear a helmet.

Apparently Ella, an intermediate skier who had always worn a helmet “in hundreds of days” on the slope with her family, left her helmet at school and didn’t wear one Sunday.

“We thought, ‘well, she’s a good skier and one day won’t matter.’ Boy, we learned our lesson.”

Coughlan also wanted to praise the Fergi Ski Patrol for their help on that stressful day.

Members of the ski patrol, which has more than 25 members this year, “were at Ella’s side almost immediately after the accident,” Coughlan said. She named patrol members Jim Nave, Amy Busch, Andi Lueder and Michele Chapin, calling them “extremely professional and organized.”

Coughlan said another child, a boy about 3 or 4, suffered a broken leg about the same time as Ella’s accident, and the two took the ambulance together to the hospital.

She estimated that about half of the skiers and snowboarders on Fergi wear helmets, and urges all of them to start wearing the protective gear.

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