Grief Over Skiing Death Compounded by Organ, Tissue Donation Failure

WESTWORLD | Michael Roberts
Jason Taylor : Family Photo
Just over two years after Jason "Jay" Taylor died during a skiing accident at Keystone, his mother, Lynda Weston Taylor, continues to raise awareness about ski area safety. But she's also speaking out about an issue that compounded the grief she felt after Jay's passing. Neither his organs nor his tissues were harvested after he died even though he'd formally designated himself an organ donor on his driver's license.

Summit County coroner Regan Wood acknowledges that mistakes were made regarding Jay's remains, but she isn't sure donations would have been possible given the circumstances of his death — a position that's at least partly supported by information from a representative of Donor Alliance, which oversees the process in Colorado. But Lynda, who was at the center of "Whiteout," an impressive 2017 Summit Daily investigation that revealed at least 137 people died at Colorado ski reports over the span of a decade, isn't satisfied with these responses.

"There's no legal recourse at all," notes Lynda, who lives in Massachusetts, "so Summit County can sit on it and say, 'Why don't you just go away? Aren't you over this yet?' Well, no, I'm not. We don't know how often this happens, but the fact is, it did happen to Jay." 

Jay died at Keystone on January 20, 2016, but since Colorado ski areas are under no obligation to inform the press about such incidents, the general public didn't find out about what happened for weeks. Lynda maintains that "Jay's death was immediately well known by employees and visitors within the Keystone Resort complex," but "it went suspiciously unreported to the media until I notified various outlets a month later. Similarly, the Summit County Coroner's Office had no intention of sharing with our family the fact that they had failed to refer Jay to Donor Alliance. Their egregious omission was discovered and confirmed only by my personal inquiry and investigation. Transparency was wholly lacking."Continue reading

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