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At about 10.30 a.m. on Thursday February 7, the zamboni driver who was clearing the snow at Dufferin Rink suddenly drove out of the rink and across the public walkway that leads to the zamboni garage. There he ran into Sandy Gribbin, one of the rink staff, who was bending down to pick up some trays lying on the ground, and hadn’t had time to see the zamboni coming. The zamboni hit Sandy in the back and knocked him flat into the snow. Zambonis are so high in front that the drivers can’t see what’s directly ahead of them, so the driver was unaware of having hit Sandy, couldn’t hear him screaming (the zamboni drivers wear earplugs) and kept driving. Another rink staff happened to come around the corner at that moment and saw her colleague disappearing under the zamboni, between the front wheels. She ran up and shouted and waved her arms wildly, and the driver stopped. The driver backed up the zamboni, and the shaken rink staff crawled out from underneath, bruised but able to stand. Other rink staff came running and surrounded him. Sandy yelled to the zamboni driver “you drove over me!” The driver said, “I didn’t see you!” Then as the rink staff walked with Sandy into the rink house, the driver followed and asked if they would pick up the spilled trays blocking his way into the garage.

Nobody paid attention, too focused on checking out Sandy’s bones and trying to help him calm down.

Zambonis have a very large augur underneath at the back, and anything that gets into the augur is ground up. Sandy was about two feet from the augur when the zamboni finally stopped. This was the thought on everyone’s mind for the rest of the day, and for some days afterwards. Sandy went to the hospital and was diagnosed with a mild concussion and bruises, but he was in one piece, miraculously.

The zamboni driver went back out onto the rink right after the accident, and – astonishingly – carried on clearing the snow as though nothing had happened. But among skaters the story made the rounds for days. Parents of young kids spoke of all the times their kids run along that walkway, and what if at that moment the zamboni would have…....(unspeakable.)

The zamboni driver was not taken off the rinks after this accident. Remarkable and strange! But some rink friends put up stop signs at each rink exit. The stop signs are meant to remind all zambonis drivers to do what most of them do already: STOP, look, and listen before you drive out of the rink and across a public walkway. It’s a very sensible rule of the road, and hopefully it will soon become official.

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