power line ed 

A three-vehicle accident at Power Line Hill Sunday evening claimed the life of Whistler resident Dan Smith. Ron Thuma, also of Whistler, sustained chest injuries in the accident. By Kevin Damaskie Power Line Hill claimed another statistic last night. This time the statistic had a name — the name attached to that statistic is Dan Smith — he was my friend. He was 37 years old. Power Line Hill has the dubious distinction of being dubbed the deadliest section on Highway 99 — a ribbon of blacktop unrivalled for its scenic beauty, unchallenged in the number of accidents that occur on its sweeping curves and undeniably the site of too much speeding. I've done it, you've done it. We cannot, we will not let Smitty be a statistic — he was too nice of a guy. I've got one empty feeling in my chest and another good friend in the hospital recovering from injuries sustained in the same accident — hang in there Ron. Now we can stop here for a moment, console our loved ones and slow the hell down! Speed was involved in the accident and speed is taking too many of the Dan Smiths of the world. Too many sons, too many daughters, too many uncles, aunts, sisters, brothers, friends, lovers… STOP! I knew Smitty for only a couple years, and in the short time our lives crossed, every time I saw him he had a smile on his face. Smitty moved into my room in a house I lived in with two buddies in Alpine Meadows. I was leaving town, thinking I wasn't going to return, so Ron and Bill (my two roomies) looked for a replacement. Enter Smitty. Fresh off a timeshare sales course, Smitty was ready to sell anybody anything. He was quick to smile and slow to judge. He possessed a laugh that could wake up the neighbourhood. I now sit here with fond memories of a very drunken Monopoly game in the wee morning hours last winter. I was in rough shape financially and the only hope in hell of surviving another round was to wrangle a backroom deal to acquire some quick revenue potential. I felt a little tap on my leg and looked under the table just in time to catch Smitty passing me a key piece of property — Illinois Avenue, I believe. He just winked, saying: "I'm definitely going to need a break on the rent." Suffice to say we were both out of the game soon after that, but Smitty just wanted the game to be a little more fun. A little more fun was what Smitty was all about. Whether he was painting in the summer or skiing in the winter — he had a hell of a lot of fun. On Sunday he spent the day in Vancouver with Ron, a couple of big city hellcats, paying the rent, checking out new threads — probably bought some new CD's as well. On Sunday night, the boys decided to race a red Corvette up Power Line Hill and the deadliest curve on Highway 99 lived up to its name taking one of the most down-to-earth and friendly people I have ever met. I talked to Ron in the hospital and he said you never think about the consequences until it's too late. Don't sweat it Ron, I'm glad you're here to talk to. On Monday, people cried. They cried at the ski shops where Smitty spent countless hours tuning skis, they cried at his house in Whistler Creek as they watched home videos made last month of Smitty praising Whistler's spring skiing and landing a 360 off a wind lip, after his first attempt ended with a dismal face plant. They cried in local newspaper offices when they called the RCMP to get the name of the latest Power Line Hill fatality. Daniel Allan Smith, 37. There was a survivor his name is Ron — he is my friend as well — and I praise some unknown force that he didn't become a Highway 99 statistic as well. Let's not point fingers or assume blame — Smitty didn't blame me when I returned a pair of skis he leant me this fall with a compressed edge. Let's all take the blame, slow down a little and do our best to celebrate a life full of smiles and laughter, because if you ever met Dan Smith, I'll bet you he was smiling. Cheers Smitty, this smile's for you.

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