March 05, 2014 - 9:12 AM
NO CAUSE OF CHAIRLIFT CRASH YET
WEST KELOWNA – Witnesses have been interviewed and pictures taken, now the investigators with the B.C. Safety Authority probing the terrifying crash on the chairlift at Crystal Mountain need to get the lift back up and running so they can figure out why it failed.
Two safety officers and a provincial safety manager remain on the scene of Saturday morning’s crash of three chairs which sent 4 people to hospital with multiple broken bones and bruises. Three of the victims are staff members at the resort and the fourth was a customer, a 16-year-old boy. Several others were left stranded on the lift and had to be rescued by resort staff.
Quinn Newcomb with the Safety Authority confirms witness reports that an empty chair was swinging and hit one of the towers causing the cable to slip off and send three chairs plummeting 6 m to the snow. Now they need to figure out why that chair was oscillating.
Until the investigation is complete, the ski hill’s operating license has been suspended shutting down the remaining lifts and effectively closing the resort.
“The reason for that is to make sure any risks of a recurrence are mitigated before we allow operation to continue,” Newcomb says.
He isn’t sure how long the investigation will take and when Crystal Mountain will reopen.
“It depends how the investigation unfolds and what the findings are,” Newcomb says. “This kind of incident is very rare and it’s even more rare for injuries to come about as a result.”
The owners and staff are fully cooperating with the probe.
Newcomb stresses that the skiing and boarding public shouldn’t be worried about the safety of chairlifts in B.C.
Statistically, driving to a ski resort is more dangerous than riding a chairlift.
“Most of the incidents that take place... are related to loading and offloading when people fall for whatever reason.”
Crystal Mountain was fined $8,000 in 2013 for failure to comply with a safety order relating to a chairlift.
Communications consultant Scott Henderson, who speaks for the resort, says the fine was in connection with a different lift, not the one involved in Saturday’s incident.
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An air ambulance transported the most seriously injured victim to Kelowna General Hospital on Saturday, Mar. 1, 2014.
Image Credit: Contributed/Leona Tereposky
-This story was updated at 3:47 p.m., March 3, 2014 with minor corrections.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014