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Utah Man Develops New Helmet for Kayakers

Utah Man Develops New Helmet for Kayakers

Posted - Aug. 20, 2003 at 4:18 p.m.



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Sammy Linebaugh ReportingA Utah man who lost his son five years ago in a kayaking accident has helped design a new helmet he hopes will prevent other families from experiencing the same tragedy.

Gil Turner: “Lucas was a real outdoorsman, very experienced, an expert back country skier. And was also an expert kayaker.”

But the sport Lucas Turner loved took his life at age 22. Kayaking a portion of Idaho's Payette River, his head struck a submerged boulder killing him instantly.

Gil Turner: “The helmet he was using at that time had slipped completely back over the top of his head and forehead.”

Turner's father, Gil stunned and grieving immersed himself in helmet safety research, and says he was shocked to find there were no industry standards for whitewater sports.

Gil Turner: "Most of the helmets used in whitewater are cross-over helmets, that is, helmets that are used for other sports such as inline skating, BMX biking, skateboarding."

Determined to design a helmet that would keep his family's tragedy from happening again he turned to Johns Hopkins University where doctors agreed to explore the possibilities.

Gil Turner: "They assigned the project to two 18-year old science mechanical engineering students.”

Over-achievers by any standards, the students had a prototype within a year. Its selling feature is its strap system, which when confronted with blunt force secures the helmet in place.

Gil Turner: "It tightens under your neck, and as it tightens under your neck, the loops allow it to tighten the occipital lope retention."

Nick Turner, testing the helmet, shares his brother Lucas' love for whitewater and says he's sold.

Nick Turner, Brother: "I think if my brother had had this helmet on right here, he would have had a lot better chance of not sustaining a head injury.

And he hopes the helmet inspired by his brother becomes an industry standard for safety when it hits the market next spring.

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