Preventative measures on sledding hills in Grand Rapids

Is the snow fence at Richmond Hill enough?

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Back in 2015, 4-year-old Gabriel Castillo was sledding down the hill at Richmond Park when he slid into oncoming traffic and sustained severe injuries.

Castillo received a concussion, broken ribs and a broken collarbone, but after hospitalization he was able to recuperate. 

The man who hit him, Kevin Daniel Witte, drove away after hitting Castillo, but police later found and charged the him.

But years later, little has been done by the city to improve the safety of this area for sledders. 

There are tires around the larger trees in the park and a partial snow fence near Richmond Street. For some parents familiar with the park, like Colleen Heyboer, that fence is not necessary. 

“I’ve been coming here for years,” Heyboer said. 

She spent her snow days as a child sledding at Richmond and now brings her children to the park. 

“You just have to know to go down the middle of the hill – and to bail out when you start to slide down the sides,” Heyboer said. 

The city of Grand Rapids did not return our requests about further preventative measures. 

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