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Champion Snowboarder Hurt in Stunt on Letterman Show

February 06, 2004|From Newsday

NEW YORK — A top-ranked snowboarder performing a stunt for "The Late Show With David Letterman" went off course on a custom-made ramp Thursday night and flew 25 feet in the air before landing on her back on the pavement, witnesses said.

Tara Dakides, 28, who has competed nationally and internationally, was rushed to Bellevue Medical Center where she was admitted in stable condition, a Fire Department spokesman said.

Dakides had already taken two runs down the custom-made ramp on West 53rd Street before veering off the side on an angle. Her actions jolted audience members and witnesses who were unsure at first if her ill-fated landing was part of a stunt.

"I was so stunned when I saw it, because she swore loudly as she was coming down the ramp, probably knowing she wasn't going to make it, but I didn't know if it was supposed to happen," witness David Riddle, 38, said. "And then everyone started to go crazy because she wasn't moving."

Witnesses said Letterman ran out of the Ed Sullivan Theater and stayed with her as Dakides was put in an ambulance.

Executive producer Rob Burnett said in a statement: "As a result of the accident, 'The Late Show' will air a repeat episode tonight. We hope Tara makes a full and complete recovery and that she'll be back on 'The Late Show' soon."

Dakides, who has been competing for about 10 years, has earned top scores in several major snowboarding events.

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