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Man dies after slipping on ice, hitting head on curb in southwest Calgary

Man dies after slipping on ice, hitting head on curb in southwest Calgary
Officials are warning Calgarians about just how dangerous those ice sidewalks can be. Warmer days combined with freezing nights can make things very slippery underfoot and as Heather Yourex-West explains, police believe the ice was to blame for a man’s death Tuesday night.

A man has died after slipping on an icy sidewalk and hitting his head on Tuesday night, according to Calgary police.

Police said a man in his 60s was walking along Spruce Drive S.W. at around 11:30 p.m. when he slipped on some ice and hit his head on the curb.

The man was taken to hospital in life-threatening condition but was pronounced dead a short time later, police said.

Investigators said the death appears accidental but the medical examiner has been called in to investigate the incident.

The tragedy highlights just how hazardous ice can be this time of year.  According to the head of emergency medicine in Calgary, emergency departments are seeing a lot of injuries related to slips and falls.

READ MORE: Calgary seniors say ‘we all fell down’ as committee mulls increased snow removal for sidewalks

“We’re seeing a lot of people coming in with injuries related to falling on their outstretched wrists, ankle injuries, a lot of fractures,” said Dr. Eddy Lang.

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“It definitely is a hazard, especially when we get these mild temperatures… You have the melt and the thaw but then sub-zero temperature at night when everything freezes,” said Adam Loria, a public education officer with Alberta Health Services EMS.

Loria says people can reduce their risk by making sure they are wearing proper footwear when out in the elements. He also advises people walk like penguins during the winter months.

“As funny as it sounds, it’s very rare you see penguins fall and they live on ice. Bend those knees so you have a low centre of gravity and take short, shuffle-like steps.

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According to the city of Calgary, complaints involving icy sidewalks are up this year compared to last.

READ MORE: Calgary to fine residents who don’t shovel sidewalks within 24 hours of snowfall 

“We’ve seen just under 4,000 complaints — that’s from Oct. 1 to the end of December,” said Chris McGeachy, a city spokesperson.

Last summer, city council approved a bylaw amendment that would allow officers fine homeowners who fail to clear snowy sidewalks within 24 hours after a snowfall.

“For a first offence it’s $250, a second offence [is] $500, a third [is] $750 and there’s also a potential of a court summons as well,” McGeachy said.

Bylaw officials say no tickets will be handed out this winter season as they work on public education and awareness.

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— With files from Global News’ Nathan Taylor and Heather Yourex-West