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Last Sunday, actor Jeremy Renner sustained serious injuries while plowing snow on his property in Washoe County, Nevada. His vehicle isn’t a truck with a plow or a glorified lawn mower but a heavy-duty PistenBully snowcat. According to police reports, the Marvel star was helping a family member free his vehicle stuck in the snow. So, what happened, and why does Renner need a PistenBully snowplow?

What does a PistenBully snowplow do?

A PistenBully snowplow like the one that ran over Jeremy Renner
A PistenBully prepares a route with artificial snow | Sebastian Kahnert/picture alliance via Getty

A PistenBully, built in Germany, is the brand name of a treaded vehicle for clearing and grooming snow for skiing. If you’ve ever been on a ski or snowboard slope, you’ve seen these monsters sitting around or even grooming trails. Renner’s snowplow is a mid-1980s model and probably a cast-off from a ski resort or government agency. Though Renner’s vehicle is an older PistenBully, new versions can make over 600 hp with a 9.0-liter Isuzu diesel-electric engine with direct injection. 

Tucker makes the trademarked Sno Cat in the United States, while Prinoth in Italy also manufactures tracked snow groomers. In addition, LiteTrax in Utah produces personal tracked vehicles, but not for plowing snow

Why did the snowplow run over Jeremy Renner?

Renner was operating his PistenBully snow groomer when he hopped out to help some relatives leave his home. He freed their vehicle, but the snowplow began to roll down the slope. The 51-year-old actor ran back to the snowplow to try to jump into it. Instead, the PistenBully rolled over him. He received “blunt chest trauma and orthopedic injuries,” a spokesperson for Renner told CNN.

That’s the least you would expect from a 13,250-pound vehicle. 

“In an effort to stop the rolling PistenBully, Mr. Renner attempted to get back into the driver’s seat of the PistenBully,” a sheriff’s department spokesperson said. “Based on our investigation, it’s at this point that Mr. Renner was run over.” He was airlifted to a local hospital, where surgeons operated on him. 

Renner has been tweeting and posting from his hospital bed, so the good news is that he is getting better.

“Thank you all for your kind words,” he wrote. “I’m too messed up now to type. But I send love to you all.”

Why does Renner have a PistenBully snowplow?

PistenBully snowplow
PistenBully 600 snow groomers flatten snow on a ski run | Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty

So, why does Renner need a snowcat in the first place? Isn’t it a bit overkill? Supposedly, he wanted the beastly machine to create a sled course for his children. So Renner’s efforts were just. But for whatever reason, he didn’t shift the vehicle into park or turn it off before the accident

The blades on PistenBully snow groomer tracks look lethal. But the wide tracks spread out the vehicle’s weight, which might have worked in Renner’s favor. Had the tracks been narrower, they might have crushed the actor. 

We wish the Hawkeye star a speedy recovery.