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Jeremy Renner was run over by his snowplow. What is a PistenBully snow groomer?

Jeremy Renner shares hospital bed photo
Jeremy Renner shares hospital bed photo following snowplow accident 01:53

Jeremy Renner is "making positive progress and is awake, talking and in good spirits," after getting in a snowplow accident, his publicist says. Renner was run over by his PistenBully snowplow while digging a car out of the snow in Reno, Nevada over the weekend. What is the machine and how did the accident occur?

What is a PistenBully?

A PistenBully is one of several "snow groomers" manufactured by Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug AG that are used to clear trails, ski slopes and redistribute snow. 

These machines are often called snowcats and are often seen on ski slopes, grooming the trails. Smaller models weigh 1,410 Ibs. and larger ones weigh 2,140 Ibs., according to the company. The one Renner was using was 1,433 pounds, Washoe County Sheriff Darrin Balaam said during a press conference. 

Some PistenBully models can seat eight to 10 people. 

PistenBullies also use fuel from hydrogenated fat waste of plants and animals to reduce CO2 emissions, the company says.

Winter sports season in Willingen starts
A Pisten-Bully prepares a downhill slope next to cabins of the Ettelsberg cable car.  Swen Pförtner/picture alliance via Getty Images

Why did Renner own one?

The star, who is known for films like "The Town" and "The Hurt Locker," which earned him Oscar nominations, often posts from his house in Lake Tahoe, calling it "my happy place," in a February post. 

Parts of Lake Tahoe can receive more than 70 inches of snow a month during the winter. In January 2017, a record 238 inches of snow fell on the area. Renner often posts videos of the extreme show – from driving a Jeep over large snow mounds in November, from snow covering the tops of vehicles in January 2021.

While snowcats are often owned commercially, some people do own these types of vehicles privately. They became trendy for personal use in the mountains of Colorado in recent years, and even entry-level models can cost into six figures new, according to The Colorado Sun.

How did the accident occur?

During a press conference on Jan. 3, Balaam said they received a call about a snowcat accident involving a pedestrian on Jan. 1. 

The sheriff's office is still investigating, but Balaam said they have so far determined one of Renner's vehicles, which was being driven by a family member, got stuck in the snow. 

Renner used the PistenBully to get the vehicle out. He towed the vehicle, got out of the PistenBully to speak to a family member and noticed the PistenBully rolling. In an effort to stop it, he attempted to get back into the driver's seat but was run over. 

"We don't not believe Mr. Renner was impaired and we believe this is a tragic accident," Balaam said. 

He called it a "major accident investigation" and said the PistenBully is in the department's possession and they are analyzing it to determine why it started to roll. 

Renner was airlifted to a local hospital and underwent surgery after suffering "blunt chest trauma and orthopedic injuries," his publicist said in a statement to CBS News. The actor posted a photo on Instagram from his hospital bed on Wednesday, writing:
"Thank you all for your kind words. Im too messed up now to type. But I send love to you all."

He also posted a shot from the hospital to his Instagram story on Thursday, thanking his mom and sister for lifting his spirits. 

Renner's publicist, Sam Mast, said in a statement on Tuesday that he was in the "ICU in critical but stable condition." "He is overwhelmed by the showing of love and support. The family asks for your continued thoughts while he heals with his close loved ones."

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