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Caleb Moore dies after X-Games crash in Aspen, first casualty in event's history

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Update: Shortly after the publication of a post about the terrible injuries suffered by snowmobiler Caleb Moore at the X-Games in Aspen, we received word that he died earlier this morning.

ESPN has already released a statement expressing condolences to the family for what is the first death in the history of the X-Games.

The ESPN statement reads:

We are deeply saddened by Caleb Moore's passing and our thoughts and prayers go out to his parents, Wade and Michelle, his brother, Colten, and the entire Moore family. He will be remembered for his natural passion for life and his deep love for his family and friends, and he will always be an inspiration to everyone he touched in the action sports community.

As a result of this accident we will conduct a thorough review of this discipline and adopt any appropriate changes to future X Games.

For 18 years we have worked closely on safety issues with athletes, course designers and other experts. Still, when the world's best compete at the highest level in any sport, risks remain. Caleb was a four-time X Games medalist attempting a move he has landed several times previously.

A statement from the family confirming Moore's death notes that "arrangements for a celebration of life are being made and an announcement will be made in the coming days."

This tragedy will no doubt only amplify safety concerns about extreme sports that we touch on in our post below. In the meantime, our condolences to Moore's family, friends, loved ones and fans.

Original post, 10:56 a.m. January 31: Last week, snowmobiler Caleb Moore was severely injured during a brutal crash at ESPN's X-Games in Aspen; see the video below. At present, Moore is in critical condition at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction, with a fundraiser established to help defray his enormous medical bills. Meanwhile, questions continue to be raised about the safety of extreme-sports competitions like the one that's left him clinging to life.

As you can see in the video, Moore executes the first five tricks on his run without difficulty. But during the sixth, his snowmobile snags the hill, causing him to launch off the vehicle -- which then lands on top of him.

Initially, the accident didn't seem that severe -- perhaps not as bad as an injury to Caleb's brother and fellow competitor Colten, who suffered a separated pelvis in an incident last week. Indeed, Caleb was able to walk away from the crash site, and doctors initially thought the worst damage he'd sustained was a concussion.

On Saturday, Colten posted the following on his Facebook page: "Thanks everyone for all the prayers and support. I'm out of the hospital and doing good but still sore. Caleb is still in the hospital but is stable and doing good."

Shortly thereafter, however, bleeding was found near Caleb's heart, with what's been described as a complication with his brain following. Soon, rumors began flying that Caleb's prognosis was dire -- assumptions Colten tried to shoot down with a Monday Facebook post stating that some of the reports about his condition weren't "100 percent accurate." Then, on Tuesday, Colten shared the link to a GiveForward page to raise money for Caleb's care -- and in the days since, he's been silent.

Likewise, there have been no updates on Caleb's Facebook page -- just well wishes from fans hoping for the best.

In the meantime, observers are wondering if the quest for ever more thrilling stunts in sports like snowmobiling has gone too far. "When is enough enough?" asked snowmobiler Paul Thacker in a Denver Post article -- a question that carries extra weight coming from him, since he was left a paraplegic after a 2010 wipe out. He now competes at X-Games in the "adaptive" snowmobile category.

Of course, such issues are secondary to Caleb's loved ones right now. They're more focused on his health challenges. Here's the intro to the fundraising site:

Caleb Moore is an inspiration to us all and we want to support him and his family so they may stay strong during this difficult time. If you are not familiar with Caleb, he lives life to the fullest. The world knows Caleb as a brilliant freestyle rider, but his family and friends know him as a fun-loving and deeply loyal person. This is our chance to show Caleb and his family how much they mean to us all

At this writing, approximately $25,000 has been pledged toward a goal of $300,000 -- about 8 percent of the total. To visit the site, click here.

More from our Denver Blogs archive: "Gretchen Bleiler's Aspen Magazine cover: X-Games marks the spot."

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