Bruce Charron was on a hill he’d navigated hundreds of times before when it happened.
The 68-year-old skier took a turn toward the edge of the slope, lost a ski and collided with a tree Sunday afternoon at Jay Peak Resort in Vermont. Ski patrollers performed CPR on Charron and loaded him in a rescue toboggan.
By the time they reached the infirmary at the bottom of the hill, a doctor was ready to examine him. But it was too late.
“He was gone,” said Pierre Brideau, a longtime friend of Charron’s and a patroller at Jay Peak. “He got the best care he could but it was just a terrible, traumatic accident.”
Brideau fought back tears as he recounted his friend’s final moments.
Charron, whom he described as “larger than life,” was a Montreal West resident known for his charitable works. He co-founded Andy Collins for Kids Foundation, which has raised over $3 million for the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation over the past 22 years.
“On Monday, they were going to have a ceremony to honour his work,” said Claudia Hess, who worked with Charron.
“He organized events that were just the most fun, just a real party. He was a selfless man. His motto was to put the fun in fundraising and that’s exactly what he did.”
According to Vermont State Police, the incident occurred around 12:45 p.m. on the mountain’s “Montrealer” trail. The weather was clear and cold at the time of the incident.
The ski resort’s trail map depicts the Montrealer as an intermediate level trail. State police are asking anyone who may have been a witness to the incident to call their investigators at 802-334-8881.
“The conditions weren’t great but (Charron) was an excellent skier,” said Brideau. “It was a freak accident. He just lost a ski.”
Brideau and his wife Hess say Charron was the “social planner” at Jay Peak — where he and his wife Anne were the “nucleus” of a group of 10 Montreal couples with a cottage on the hill.
“He was the life of the party; he just wanted everyone to have fun and be happy,” said Hess.
Charron owned a company that manufactured leather for varsity athletics jackets in the United States.
Hess says he had recently started working with Concordia University to fundraise scholarships for students who wouldn’t otherwise have the means to get a higher education.
He also raised money for the Montreal West Aquatics Club.
“He was all about his community, about improving the lives of the people around him,” said Brideau. “This is a huge loss for Montreal West.”
The 68-year-old had three daughters and two grandchildren.
“They were his life; he was always emailing photos of them, talking about the grandchildren,” said Hess. “He was a great father and grandfather and we’ll miss him so much.”
Presse Canadienne contributed to this report.