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Sad news from the Winter X Games, as the worst fears for injured snowmobiler Caleb Moore were realized.
Moore, a four-time medalist at the Winter X Games, died Thursday morning from injuries he suffered in a horrific crash during finals of the snowmobile freestyle at X Games Aspen last Thursday, making him the first fatality in the 18-year history of the X Games, winter and summer.
Details on cause of death were not revealed, but he was reported to have suffered a brain complication after heart surgery. Moore, who was from Krum, Texas, was 25.
Moore's family issued this statement: "He will be truly missed and never forgotten. The family wishes to express their deep gratitude for all the prayers and support they have received from all the fans, friends and family around the world that Caleb has inspired."
ESPN, which hosts the X Games, also issued a statement, one that deals with future safety issues of the sport.
"We are deeply saddened by Caleb Moore's passing and our thoughts and prayers go out to his parents, Wade and Michelle, his brother, Colten, and the entire Moore family. He will be remembered for his natural passion for life and his deep love for his family and friends, and he will always be an inspiration to everyone he touched in the action sports community.
"As a result of this accident we will conduct a thorough review of this discipline and adopt any appropriate changes to future X Games.
"For 18 years we have worked closely on safety issues with athletes, course designers and other experts. Still, when the world's best compete at the highest level in any sport, risks remain. Caleb was a four-time X Games medalist attempting a move he has landed several times previously."
The crash occurred near the end of Moore's first run. He failed to fly far enough on a backflip and the front sleds dug into the landing ramp, catapulting him over the handlebars and into a face-first landing, after which the snowmobile landed on him.
Moore was knocked unconscious. After regaining consciousness, Moore began feeling worse and was transported to a local hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion. During the night, doctors discovered internal bleeding around his heart, so he was airlifted to Grand Junction, Colorado, where he underwent emergency surgery Friday morning.
Moore had sustained a heart contusion. He remained in intensive care. The heart injury led to a secondary complication involving his brain, according to a family spokeswoman. No specifics were given. Moore's grandfather Charles Moore had told The Denver Post on Monday afternoon that "it's almost certain he's not going to make it."
Moore competed in his first Winter X Games in 2010, winning a bronze in freestyle. He added two more bronze medals in the same event in 2011 and 2012, adding a silver in snowmobile best trick in 2011. His brother, Colten, was defending champion in this year's freestyle event.
Ironically, about 30 minutes after Caleb's crash, Colten also crashed, sending him to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a separated pelvis. By Saturday morning, he had been released.
For the Winter X Games, Caleb's passing opens a fresh wound. It was just over year ago that the Winter X and freestyle skiing communities were mourning the death of Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke at age 29. Burke, a four-time Winter X Games champion, crashed during a training run in Park City, Utah, on Jan. 10, 2012. She passed away from her injuries nine days later, less than two weeks before the Winter X Games.
Before that, moto X rider Jeremy Lusk, who won gold medals in best trick and freestyle motocross at X Games '08, died three days after suffering head injuries in a crash at a non-X Games event in Costa Rica on Feb.7, 2009.
Caleb has had his share of snowmobile and ATV accidents in the past. He told the New York Times the day of the crash that among his injuries were a broken ankle, pelvis, back, tailbone, collarbone, and wrist, along with 10 concussions.
"You try not to get hurt," he told the Times, "but in this sport it's kind of the price you pay for not having to work 9 to 5."
Sadly, this time Caleb paid the ultimate price.
The family said a celebration of life is being planned and an announcement will be made in coming days.