Sled riding at Hudson Springs Park resumes following short ban

City examines risk after young sledder falls into creek

Phil Keren
Kent Weeklies
This is one of two sled riding signs that was recently posted at Hudson Springs Park by city staff. The signs were put up after city staff assessed the sledding risk after a child fell into a creek at the end of a ride last month. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

HUDSON — Sledding is now allowed again in a city park after the activity was briefly banned at the site following an accident involving a child.

A hill at Hudson Springs Park, 7095 Stow Road, is a popular destination for sled riders, although it is "not a dedicated sledding area," said Trent Wash, the city's assistant director of public works. He added there are no dedicated sledding hills in city parks.

Resident Lindsay Oswald posted on the Hudson Roundtable Facebook page last month that she had witnessed a small child sled down the hill at Hudson Springs Park and fall into the creek at the bottom of the hill. Oswald said she saw two adults help pull the child out of the creek. Oswald described the situation as "very scary" and said she wanted to make sure people knew the creek cannot be seen when a sledder is standing at the top of the hill.

Oswald told the Hub-Times she thought the boy who went into the creek was 4 to 6 years old, and the creek was approximately 2 feet deep. Given the child's age, the depth of the water and the fact the child was bundled up in winter clothes, she believes the boy "could have drowned" had it not been for the fast-acting adults.

"I don't think he would've been strong enough to pull himself up [out of the creek]," said Oswald.

Oswald said that she was at the park that day with her children, who were also sledding. Noting she is a newer resident, Oswald said she had not been to the hill before and was not aware a creek was at the bottom of the incline. After witnessing the incident, Oswald said she and her children —  6-year-old twin boys and 4-year-old girl — left the park.

"We thought it was too dangerous," said Oswald, who noted her central concern is the lack of visibility of the creek's location as it is on the other side of a ledge.  

This is one of two signs that was recently posted at Hudson Springs Park. Sledding at the park was banned for about a week following an incident where a child fell into the creek while sledding. City staff decided to put these signs up after assessing the situation. (Submitted Photo)

City Council member Nicole Kowalski (at-large) said she saw Oswald's post, talked to Oswald and then asked city staff to investigate. Wash said the city put up a "no sledding" sign at the hill on Dec. 30, and then assistant city manager Frank Comeriato and city staff members evaluated the situation.

After staff visited the site, Wash said they decided to post "Sledding At Your Own Risk" signs "knowing [that] park users would still sled [at the site] even though the area is not set up for sledding."

The two "At Your Own Risk" signs — one at the park entrance and one at the hill itself — were put up on Jan. 6.

Kowalski noted her purpose in having staff check the situation was to "increase awareness" about the potential risks at the site, not to ban sledding there.

Oswald said the intent of her Facebook post — which generated a variety of opinions — was to bring attention to the issue and noted she was glad the city addressed it.

"I appreciated the [city's] efforts and I'm also glad it wasn't shut down because I certainly don't want to ruin anybody's fun," said Oswald. "But I don't know if [the signs] would really let people know that there's water there because that's the whole issue."

Kowalski added that children's safety is her top priority.

"I am happy that the city acted so quickly so that generations to come can sled safely," said Kowalski.

Sledding safety tips

Here are some sledding safety tips offered by Summit Metro Parks and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park:

• The best conditions for sledding include frozen ground with at least 2 inches of snow cover;

• Remember to walk up the side of sled hills, not in the center where you may be in the path of moving sleds;

• Check for obstacles like trees, sticks, or rocks. Make sure you have enough of a landing zone;

• Sled feet first, roll off if you think you might crash;

• Take frequent breaks; and

• Dress in layers and avoid cotton clothing.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at pkeren@thebeaconjournal.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.