By now you’re aware that actress Natasha Richardson has died after what seemed to be a very minor tumble on a Quebec ski hill while taking a private lesson.
The PR machine at Mont Tremblant works well. In every statement following the incident, employees centred on their “strict protocol” and how it was “followed to the letter”. They are well aware that a seemingly minor fall can turn out to be deadly, as it did in this case. Neurologists have nicknamed it “talk and die”.
Essentially, the patient has hit their head and cracked their skull in such a way that blood seeps in around the brain stem. This type of fracture has even eluded CT scans. The person seems absolutely fine and feels well, ergo the “talk” part of the syndrome’s nickname. They appear to be perfectly normal, but somewhere between 20 minutes and three hours later they fall into a coma-like state because of the internal bleeding. She could have also had a pre-existing condition that was triggered by the fall or clotting that caused a stroke. But her symptoms are classic Talk and Die behaviour. By the time she fell ill with a headache and was rushed to a hospital, it was likely almost over for her.
Doctors say this is an extremely rare event but it’s also the reason why they like to observe patients who have hit their heads for 24 hours. It’s also the reason why, despite her protests that she was fine, the resort insisted on having a staff member at her side even after she waved off a visit to a hospital. It’s also why beginners are urged to wear a helmet, which isn’t required by law.
Natasha came from an acting dynasty but she didn’t have the rabid ambition of some of her contemporaries. She was married to Liam Neeson with whom she had two teenage sons – one was with her on the ski hill. She was an amazing gourmet cook and loved to whip up big dinners for famous friends. She was set to revive the musical A Little Night Music opposite her mother, Vanessa Redgrave, later this year. She was just 45.