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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Woman who fell at Spokane Skate Ribbon Friday dies

UPDATED: Mon., Jan. 22, 2018

Lorae Sims died doing what she loved.

Growing up in a small town in central Saskatchewan Province in Canada, her brother Arley Roemer said being able to navigate the ice on a pair of blades was a rite of passage. And Sims was a natural.

“There was four ice skate rinks in a town of 1,600 people,” he said. “That’s what you got.”

The 63-year-old loved skating so much, in fact, weeks before her death she got a new pair of skates for her birthday. She was wearing them when she fell Friday afternoon and struck her head on the ice at the Riverfront Park’s new Skate Ribbon.

Roemer said even if helmets were available, she wouldn’t have used one. According to city officials, when Sims fell she was on a straightaway and wasn’t near other skaters.

“It was just a tragic fall and that’s all,” Roemer said. “It is what it is. It’s nobody’s fault.”

The accident was reported at about 3:15 p.m. Friday. She was quickly transported to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, where Roemer said doctors conducted a CT scan and found “black spots on her brain.”

“The brain was dying,” he said.

He said doctors decided to wait overnight to see if her condition improved, but it didn’t. The decision was made Saturday afternoon to keep her on life support so that her organs could be donated when ready.

And that’s when the confusion began. On Saturday, city officials sent a press release declaring the woman was dead. But on Sunday, they retracted their original statement, saying instead she was in “critical condition.”

Roemer believes it may have been a simple miscommunication between the hospital, city officials, and the woman’s family.

Brian Coddington, city spokesman, said at a press conference Monday that they were relying on “unofficial channels” when they reported on Sims’ condition.

“We do apologize for any confusion we created during this difficult time for them,” Coddington said.

When skaters put on the required wrist band before entering the ice, they’re also putting on a waiver of liability, which is printed on the back of each band. It states that skaters assume all risks and cannot pursue legal action against the city.

A sign greeting skaters also highly recommends they wear helmets. The city provided 60 helmets, free of charge, Monday to those who wanted them.

Sunday afternoon is when Roemer said she was officially declared dead. Some of her organs were donated. He said being organ donor was a big deal for her – a natural extension of her warm and giving personality.

“She was done with her Earthly body and knew it could help others when she was done with it,” he said.

Roemer described her as the matriarchy of the family – the “hub of information” that would keep different parts informed about anything and everything.

As a retired dental assistant, Sims was also helping manage Roemer’s concrete business with scheduling and other office work. She was also the primary caregiver for her husband, Jeff Sims.

“She was pretty much everything to everybody, her kids, the rest of the family,” he said.

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