Sundeck – Australian Story
<<SHEN’S REMARKABLE STORY>>
Yasheng Lo ( Shen) arrived in Australia on April 21, 2015 on a one year working holiday visa. Three days later, on April 24 he had an interview in Sydney for a kitchenhand position for the winter season at the Sundeck Hotel in Perisher Valley. A keen snowboarder, Shen was a “snow tragic” and has a tattoo of a snowflake on his wrist so he was excited to be offered a position at the hotel.
After the winter, like many backpackers, Shen went off and did various fruit picking jobs so that he could gain a one year extension to his visa. He then returned to Perisher Valley for another season at the Sundeck.
At 5pm on Sunday August 28, 2016 I took a call from the Perisher Medical Centre. “Did we have an Asian staff member? He is unresponsive and the only clue to his identity is a Sundeck Hotel envelope in his pocket.”
It was Yasheng Lo (Shen). He had been snowboarding in the Leichhardt terrain park when a jump had gone wrong and he landed on his head, smashing his helmet. The call out to the ski patrol had been “code red”. The prognosis did not look good.
The next hour or so was complete panic – the medical people were desperately trying to get in touch with his family in Taiwan. We had no details on file and fellow staff could not access his phone or email. All that could be done was to put a message on his Facebook page and hope it would be seen. Fellow staff rushed to the medical centre with some of his personal belongings.
Just before 6pm we saw the ambulance leave the medical centre for the helipad and not long after the whirr of the helicopter blades could be heard through the valley as it headed for Canberra Hospital. Shen was the second staff member in four years to be carried out of Perisher in an ambulance. Tomomi Ishikawa had also had a jumping accident while snowboarding and sadly ended up a paraplegic. After a long difficult period she is back in good spirits and hoping to represent Japan in rowing in the Paralympic games next year.
Working at a place like the Sundeck is not your usual employment. Staff come from all parts of the world; live at the hotel, eat together and get out on the slopes together. There was a somber mood that evening, also felt by many of our regular guests who had just checked in for their annual snow holiday.
The search for Shen’s family became even more intense once he arrived in Canberra. The embassy was on the phone to us stressing the urgent need for contact. All this in the middle of trying to feed a full house of guests. Luckily a friend in Taiwan spotted the Facebook post and went round to the family home.
Shen spent ten days in a coma in Canberra hospital with his family close by before the decision was made to fly him back to Taiwan. Despite our close connection, due to “privacy issues” medical staff would not pass on much information other than to say “he may not wake up and if he does he most likely won’t be the same person you have known the last two seasons.”
On October 1 Shen regained consciousness in Taiwan with miraculously few side effects – some loss of memory and some numbness. Just imagine for a moment what it would be like to wake up somewhere totally different to where you went to sleep. Three months later we had lunch with him in Sydney and the story just gets better …..
Shen returned to Australia and studied cookery at the Cordon Bleu School in Sydney. His passion for cookery shone through and he did well in his course and work placement.
Recently we completed the paperwork to sponsor him for employment in Australia and he is back at the Sundeck this season working as a chef. In summer he will go to our other hotel at Tathra.
Despite his mother’s concern he is back on a snowboard, perhaps avoiding jumps.
We now get emergency contact details from all our staff.