BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Huge mounds of all that lake effect snow that fell in the south towns are being brought to the Erie Community South Campus in Orchard Park.
That’s where I caught up with Erie County Sheriff John Garcia who is cautioning everyone to be extra careful with large snow piles along driveways and parking lots.
But also warning parents and children not to dig snow tunnels.
“Please be careful. If you see your kids digging tunnels please get out there and let them know not to do so,” warned Sheriff Garcia.
It can also be very tempting for kids and teens to jump into snow piles.
“Oh my God — and you never know what's underneath these snow piles,” declared Sheriff Garcia.
That's exactly what happened to Andrew Mangan, 22, of Derby.
In December 2016, he decided to jump into a large pile of snow.
“I dove into what I thought was powder and ultimately hit something underneath — whether that was hard pack snow or ice — never really figured it out and that caused my C5 vertebrae to break and resulted in a spinal cord injury,” recalled Mangan.
I took this photo of Andrew when I meet him several years ago while he was attending Canisius High School.
He was initially paralyzed from his shoulders down but continues to recover.
“The majority of cervical injuries, spinal cord injuries come from diving, whether that's diving into snow — I know another boy or gentleman who got hurt in Hamburg actually more recently than me from pretty much the same set of events that I got hurt,” explained Mangan.
Mangan is now in his senior year at Stanford University in California where he's on the U.S. Para Team for rowing.
Both Mangan and the county sheriff say no matter how tempting and fun it might look to jump into a pile of snow, reconsider the decision.
“It's usually not what it looks like under the surface. Even if it's your backyard that you're super familiar with when there's four feet of snow — you may not really know where the furniture is or where things use to be,” Mangan noted.
“Please kids — stay off these snow piles — we don't know what's underneath,” Sheriff Garcia commented.