WOMAN DIES, TWO DAUGH­TERS HURT IN CHAIR­LIFT FALL

The Texas woman’s two daugh­ters are hurt in the in­ci­dent at Ski Granby Ranch.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Jesse Paul

A Texas mother died and her two young daugh­ters were hurt af­ter they fell about 25 feet from a four-per­son chair­lift Thurs­day morn­ing at Ski Granby Ranch in Grand County. It was not clear what prompted the fall, caus­ing the first chair­lift fall death in Colorado in 14 years.

A Texas mother died and her two young daugh­ters were hurt af­ter they fell about 25 feet from a four-per­son chair­lift Thurs­day morn­ing at Ski Granby Ranch in Grand County.

Ray Jen­nings, chief of­fi­cer for emer­gency man­age­ment at Grand County EMS, said first re­spon­ders were called to the ski area about 10 a.m. The three were taken to the nearby Mid­dle Park Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

The 40-year-old woman died at the hos­pi­tal, and one of the daugh­ters was flown on Flight for Life to Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal Colorado. The other child was in sta­ble con­di­tion at Mid­dle Park. The girls are 9 and 12 years old.

It was not clear what prompted the fall, caus­ing the first chair­lift fall death in Colorado in 14 years.

Schelly Ol­son, spokes­woman for the in­ci­dent com­mand, said the three were the only ones on the chair when they fell some­where be­tween the lift’s load­ing area and sum­mit. The chair re­mained at­tached to the line.

Ol­son said there were many wit­nesses: “Peo­ple on the chairs in front. Peo­ple on the chairs in back. Peo­ple on the hill.”

Chair­lift deaths from mal­func­tions or falls are ex­ceed­ingly rare in the United States, ac­cord­ing to the National Ski Ar­eas As­so­ci­a­tion. Deaths from mal­func­tions have to­taled just 12 from 1973 through Oc­to­ber, and there were three deaths from falls be­tween 2004 and Oc­to­ber, the NSAA re­ports.

Rod Kessler, a ski area spokesman, said they fell from the Quick Draw Ex­press lift. The lift — a de­tach­able quad, which is of­ten called a “high-speed” lift — was shut down “just to make sure ev­ery­thing is in or­der,” Kessler said.

Jen­nings said the Grand County Sher­iff ’s Of­fice and Granby Po­lice De­part­ment are in­ves­ti­gat­ing, as is the Colorado Pas­sen­ger Tramway Safety Board. The names of the three have not been re­leased, but of­fi­cials say they were vis­it­ing from Texas with other fam­ily mem­bers.

Ski Granby Ranch is about 20 miles west of Win­ter Park. The small, 400-acre fam­ily-ori­ented re­sort is known for be­ing a spot for be­gin­ner skiers and snow­board­ers. It has just four chair­lifts.

The last chair­lift fall death in Colorado is be­lieved to have oc­curred in 2002.

“(Since) that time, there have been 1.7 bil­lion chair­lift rides,” said Chris Lins­mayer, a spokesman for Colorado Ski Coun­try USA. “It’s su­per rare. It re­ally doesn’t hap­pen very of­ten, and it’s not some­thing that folks need to be con­cerned about.”

Ac­cord­ing to an Oc­to­ber re­port by the NSAA, the last death on a

chair­lift at­trib­uted to a mal­func­tion was in 1993. As of the 2015-16 ski sea­son, the an­nual fa­tal­ity rate per 100 mil­lion miles trav­eled on ski lifts was 0.14.

In 1976, two cars from Vail’s 7-year-old gon­dola – each car­ry­ing six skiers – plum­meted 125 feet, killing four peo­ple in one of the most deadly lift in­ci­dents in the United States. In 1985, a bull­wheel at Keystone Re­sort failed, send­ing waves down the line that threw 60 peo­ple off the Teller Lift, two of whom later died from their in­juries.

In April 2009, a Rhode Is­land man with no sig­nif­i­cant med­i­cal his­tory died af­ter los­ing con­scious­ness on a chair­lift in Breck­en­ridge.

At­tempts to re­vive him at the top of the lift were un­suc­cess­ful.

In Jan­uary, a skier pushed a snow­boarder off an Aspen High­lands chair­lift. Thomas Proe­sel, who was ac­cused of first-de­gree as­sault in the case, was found not guilty by rea­son of in­san­ity. The snow­boarder was not se­ri­ously hurt.

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