SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – Parts of Utah seem more like Hollywood tonight thanks to the Sundance Film Festival. But, a Utah family and a famous snowboarder who nearly died on a Utah mountain hope their personal stories will outshine all the glitz and glamour.
The HBO production “THE CRASH REEL” premiered Friday night at downtown Salt Lake’s Rose Wagner Theatre with a strong message of hope.
Kevin Pearce was fierce … a competitive snowboarder who was at the top of his game headed into the 2010 winter Olympics.
“For years he competed and I went and I was a nervous wreck. And he almost beat Shaun White. It was really close,” said Kevin’s mother Pia Pearce.
But, December 31st, 2009 Kevin’s dream was cut short.
“When they said you need to come out here, that's like … then, it's a whole different level,” said Pia.
Kevin’s mother soon found out her son suffered a traumatic brain injury. He’d hit his head during a trick on Park City’s halfpipe. He was in a coma at The University of Utah Hospital.
“It's been three years and I still got a long way to go,” said Kevin.
The HBO film was directed by Lucy Walker and produced locally. One Utah mother didn’t hesitate at the chance to be a part of this film.
“I said I'm in,” said Diane Stewart.
It was an easy decision for Stewart because she shares the Pearce’s pain. When her son, Hardy, was 15 years old he suffered a similar injury freeskiing in Utah.
“When you go through something like that with a child it alters how you think about life. Because you've held it in your hand and you've almost lost it,” said Stewart.
Stewart and Pearce met for the first time Friday at Valters Osteria on Broadway during the film’s premiere party. It was an emotional meeting years in the making of two mothers who have shared the anxiety of their risk-taking sons, the agony of nearly losing them and the hardships of the years-long recoveries
“The journey that she's been through I share. I know the pain. I know the ups and downs,” said Stewart.
They’re now an everlasting team. Along with their families and Kevin’s willingness to make his private and vulnerable moments public, they all hope to pass on the tough lessons they’ve learned.
“Anybody who does things where their head is at risk of injury should get baseline testing. So that then after you get hurt you can be tested again to see if you've gotten back to where you were,” said Pia.
“You need to train carefully, take precautions and of course wear all the gear that's available now. Especially the good helmets,” said Stewart.
As for Hardy, he’s 19 years old now and attended Friday’s premiere along with Kevin. They’ve both made massive strides, but will never be quite the same.
Kevin hopes to turn the tragedy into a positive by helping others. http://
“You know I wasn't really doing that with snowboarding. It was more like I was helping myself and I was doing everything I wanted to do, but now it's like I can help other people. And if I can do that and if I can make a change, you know, that would be amazing,” said Kevin.
Along with the film premiere, the Pearces’ are promoting the “Love Your Brain” campaign. It includes being smart, being safe and making good choices.
After their visit in Utah the Pearce family is heading to Aspen, Colorado where Kevin will be a commentator for the Winter X Games where he once was a fierce competitor.
To visit the Love Your Brain website click here