An afternoon of fun in the snow turned into a frightening ordeal for several young men Wednesday afternoon.
According to Forsyth County Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers, four sledding incidents involving boys ages 9 to 17 resulted in trips to the hospital.
The most serious incident, which happened about 2:30 p.m., involved a 17-year-old who suffered serious injuries while sledding with a group of friends behind Liberty Middle School in northwest Forsyth.
Shivers said the teen apparently lost control of his sled on a hill and crashed headlong into a fire hydrant.
"He was unconscious when we arrived on scene and we quickly loaded him to transport him to Northside Hospital-Forsyth," Shivers said. "It was a very serious situation … he hit the hydrant with his upper body."
The teen, whose name has not been released, was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
Shivers noted that ground transportation was required because all of the air ambulances in the area were grounded due to the weather.
"We checked with all of them, and no one was flying, so we had to take him by ground."
The next two incidents occurred within minutes of each other, Shivers said. At about 3:30 p.m., another 17-year-old boy was sledding on Lanier Heights Drive in a residential area and sustained injuries from a rollover on his sled.
Less than 10 minutes later, the fire department responded to a call of a 9-year-old in a residential area with another sledding injury, followed by a 21-year-old man with a sledding injury.
"The last three injuries were not nearly as serious as the first one, but they were injuries, nonetheless, that required transport to the hospital," Shivers said.
He added that at least in one of the incidents, a sled was being pulled by an all-terrain vehicle.
"That's not a smart thing to do," he said. "If you're going to sled, use common sense and enjoy the day. Enjoy the snow that's so rare in Georgia.
“We even encourage children and teenagers to get out and enjoy these kinds of days, but please use common sense, preferably with adult supervision."
According to Shivers, it's unsafe for a sled to be pulled by any motorized vehicles. Moreover, sledders should avoid sledding in areas where there are objects a sled can impact.
Shivers said children should sled in clear, open areas, using a buddy system. He also suggested using helmets. And while they may not be designed specifically for sledding, bicycle, horse-riding or motorcycle helmets "will provide some protection."
"Have friends with you, have cell phones with you and absolutely never, ever be pulled by any kind of motorized vehicle," he said. "We encourage parents and adults to know where their kids are sledding and … don't sled near things where you can hurt yourself.
Online Editor Jim Dean contributed to this report.
Check back for updates at forsythnews.com.