Sarah Burke medical bill
Following Burke’s death on Thursday, two fundraising websites had been set up by the skier’s agent, Michael Spencer, with the goal of raising $550,000 to help the family cover “the enormous cost of Sarah’s recent medical care and to provide for other arrangements.”
As of Friday evening, donors had raised $249,396.“Because of the donations in the last day, it is now clear that Sarah’s family will not have any financial burden related to her care,” Nicole Wool, the Burke family’s spokesperson, said in a statement issued Friday.
The fundraising goal appears to be significantly more than the actual medical costs.
“Based on early estimates, total charges for Sarah’s care are expected to be approximately $200,000,” Wool said in the statement.
According to the statement, the family has yet to receive a bill from the University of Utah Hospital, where Burke died following more than a week of intensive care.
Further contributions to the Burke fundraising websites will be “used to establish a foundation to honour Sarah’s legacy and promote the ideals she valued and embodied,” Wool said in the statement.
Burke, who was 29, crashed on Jan. 10 in Park City, Utah, while training in the halfpipe at a private event organized by Monster Energy Drink.
The Olympic gold-medal hopeful and four-time Winter X Games champion suffered irreversible brain damage after the fall because of a lack of oxygen and blood to the brain.
it’s unclear what insurance coverage Burke had at the time of her death.
Wool was not available for comment and, when reached by phone, Spencer, her agent, declined to comment.
“I’m on the phone with my mom right now,” he said. “I haven’t had a chance to talk to my mom in three days.”He did not return calls.David Pym, manager of the Canadian Snowsports Association, said any athlete competing in sanctioned activities has full out-of-country medical and disability insurance.
“We are an extremely safe sport because we are very anal about what we allow our athletes to do,” said Pym. “What happened to Sarah is an absolute tragedy but an absolute rarity.”
Burke’s accident, however, happened at an unsanctioned event.
“This is the unfortunate part of this — it was third-party training activity that was being undertaken privately,” said Peter Judge, CEO of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association. “They have to ensure those mechanisms are in place for that time period and event.”
Robert Hooper, director of client and financial services at Octagon, a management firm that represents athletes including swimmer Michael Phelps and halfpipe snowboarder Hannah Teter, said competitors in all major sports are usually required to carry their own personal disability insurance (to cover accidents) and life insurance (to cover death).
“When you look at someone’s financial situation you want to make sure they have adequate disability coverage and adequate life insurance protection as part of their financial plan,” said Hooper. “My take would be is that she (Burke) probably didn’t have extensive insurance programs in place.”
Some wondered whether Monster Energy Drink, which was hosting the private event, had any legal obligation to help Burke, one of their sponsored athletes.
Monster Energy Drink declined to comment.
“That’s our policy for everything,” said a Monster Energy Drink media relations agent who would give only her first name, Laura, for fear of being fired. “We don’t talk to the media.”
The company has yet to release an official statement.
With files from The Canadian Press
By Saturday morning, the site had already raised $246,701 which cleared all of her medical costs.
‘Due to the outpouring of love and support, enough funds have been raised to cover the anticipated costs related to Sarah’s medical care based on the numbers received from the hospital,’ the site read.
There are potential complications with Sarah’s insurance coverage because she was treated in an American hospital as a Canadian citizen, and because she is only contractually covered by her health insurance when competing in a sanctioned event.
Sarah died after an accident on a training run for an event sponsored by Monster Energy Drink.
She fell on the Eagle Superpipe in Salt Lake City, Utah, after performing a trick known as a Flat Spin 540.
Peter Judge, the CEO of Canada's freestyle team, said the injury was due to a 'freak accident' after a trick that was well within her capabilities.
He said she performed that stunt ‘many, many times,’ and it ‘was certainly in the realm of her skill capabilities.’
‘This injury was one - it was more of a freak accident than one caused by anything in specific terms,’ he continued.
‘It was more of a fluke outcome. Safety was paramount to her.’
A four-time Winter X Games champion, she crashed on the same half-pipe where snowboarder Kevin Pearce sustained a traumatic brain injury during a training accident on December 31, 2009.
As a result of her fall, Burke tore her vertebral artery, which led to severe bleeding on the brain, causing her to go into cardiac arrest on the scene, according to publicist Nicole Wool.
Miss Wool said Burke's organs and tissues were donated, as she had wanted.
The statement said: 'The family expresses their heartfelt gratitude for the international outpouring of support they have received from all the people Sarah touched.'