Water Skier Sarah Teelow Passes Away at Age 20

Tim KeeneyContributor INovember 27, 2013

MANAUS, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 23:  People gather at Ponta Negra beach on Rio Negro, a branch of the Amazon River, on November 23, 2013 in Manaus, Brazil. Manaus' Arena Amazonia will be a stadium venue during the forthcoming FIFA 2014 World Cup Brazil. The city is the largest in the Amazon holding around 2 million and is the main hub for transport in the Upper Amazon basin.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sarah Teelow, a 20-year-old water-skiing champion, died on Monday due to spinal and head injuries suffered from a high-speed crash during a race a day earlier. 

According to the Los Angeles Times' Chuck Schilken, Teelow crashed during the Bridge-to-Bridge race on the Hawkesbury River in her home country of Australia. 

He provides further details:

The 20-year-old who recently won the formula 2 category at the World Waterski Racing Championships in Spain was airlifted to a hospital in critical condition with spinal and head injuries but died the next night.

The cause of the accident is unknown, but according to the Australian Associated Press, via the Guardiansaid the sea was calm at the time and authorities are investigating the crash. 

The Daily Mail's Frank Thorne says the police are looking into a video, which shows another boat traveling in the opposite direction and creating a wake. 

Inspector David Hogg urged anyone with video of the race to come forward.  

As Ray Pattersonwho witnessed the accidenttold the Sydney Morning Herald, via Schilken's report, it was a freak occurrence:

''There is no rhyme or reason to it," Ray Patterson, who was in the boat observing Teelow, told the Sydney Morning Herald. "It's just an awkward fall. It's not dangerous. It's no more dangerous than playing football.''

Ski Racing NSW made the following statement: 

Sarah represents all that is good about our sport and its competitors and it is a great sadness to acknowledge that she will not be gracing our waters again.

A Beautiful girl and a great competitor, she will be sorely missed.

Per Sky News, via Yahoo! Sports UK, competitors can reach speeds of more than 80 mph during the race that goes from the mouth of the Hawkesbury River to Windsor. 

Teelow, who also suffered a high-speed water-skiing crash in 2008 where she broke her sternum and suffered other major injuries, is the seventh water skier in Australia to die as a result of an accident in the last five years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, per Schilken.    

As BBC pointed out, Ski Racing Australia once called the 20-year-old Teelow, who was a human movement student at the University of Technology in Sydney, "one of the sport's most accomplished young competitors."