‘I laid with him, told him he was a good boy’ Father’s pain after 12-year-old’s ski death

Louis Watkiss: Parents recall holding son after tragic crash

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Louis Watkiss, from Sutton Coldfield, died at the SnowDome in Staffordshire in September. Parents Chris and Natalie Watkiss were at home when they got a call to say Louis had been hurt during a tobogganing party with friends.

In an emotional plea, the parents called for changes to the law, making safety helmets compulsory at such venues.

Speaking to BBC Radio WM, Mr Watkiss said: “I never thought to tell him to be careful.”

Even after seeing an air ambulance outside the venue as he arrived following the call to say Louis had been hurt, he could not imagine an injury worse than a broken arm, he said.

Following paramedics up the slope towards Louis, Mr Watkiss said he was “a very nerve-wracking walk”.

He added: “There was a lot of blood and within a few minutes he was pronounced dead in front of me.”

The heartbroken father continued: “I laid with him for a bit, told him he was a good boy and how much I loved him.”

Mrs Watkiss was then able to join him and they lay together with him, holding a hand each for about half an hour.

The family are now working with their local MP, Andrew Mitchell, to change the law to make helmets mandatory.

Mr Mitchell said: “I’m currently awaiting a response from the Chief Constable of the Staffordshire Police and from the Health and Safety Executive.

He added: “Subject to what comes out of those discussions, I will be hoping to raise the matter in the House of Commons because I think there is a serious case for changing the law.”

Since Louis died, tobogganing has been banned at the SnowDome until the Health and Safety Executive is satisfied risks can be managed.

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The SnowDome said it was continuing to work with Staffordshire Police to investigate what happened.

In a statement, Tamworth SnowDome said: “Everyone here is still profoundly shocked and saddened by Louis’s death, and our thoughts remain very much with his grieving family.

It added: “This loss of a young life is an absolute tragedy. We have been giving our full-co-operation to the investigation being conducted by the authorities.”

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