Wichita teen never woke up after skiing accident in Colorado

Tess Smith with her brother, Evan Smith.
Tess Smith with her brother, Evan Smith. Courtesy photo

Evan Smith didn’t know his younger sister as a big skier, but he wasn’t surprised when she went with a friend’s family last week for a vacation in Colorado.

“She definitely loved going on vacations,” Smith said. “But that was the first time she had ever been skiing.”

Tess Smith’s ski trip turned into a tragedy for her family and friends when the 15-year-old Northwest High School sophomore was injured in an accident Friday on the slopes in Breckenridge, Colo.

Evan Smith, 23, said his sister, now on life support, failed her final breathing test Sunday night. The family plans to keep her on life support until her organs can be harvested and donated.

“She was such a giving person, and she never asked for anything in return from people,” Evan said of his sister.

Tess suffered a broken leg during the accident but was alert and talking to ski patrol responders after they arrived, Evan Smith said.

“She lost consciousness shortly after that and never woke up,” Evan Smith said. “It’s been a pretty emotional time, but the thoughts and prayers from family and friends has helped.

“It’s comforting to know that the Lord has taken her, and she won’t have to suffer anymore.”

Tess is at an Aurora, Colo., hospital, according to a GoFundMe page set up by a family friend. The page had raised nearly $14,000 for her medical expenses as of Monday afternoon.

Bryan Horwath: 316-269-6708, @bryan_horwath