A nine-year-old boy is miraculously uninjured after falling 40 feet from a ski lift at the Solitude Mountain Resort.
Solitude was unable to say why the boy fell, except that they are certain it was not a mechanical malfunction or a problem with loading and unloading the lift. The incident, however, serves as a painful reminder of the importance of ski lift safety.
Communications Manager Sarah Huey appeared on KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic to explain what happened and how parents of young skiers can help make sure their kids don’t endure the same kinds of falls.
Solitude Mountain Resort on the ski lift accident
Falls like this one, Huey told Dave & Dujanovic, are “a pretty rare occurrence.”
This fall, she says, wasn’t caused by any sort of error in the equipment or the staff procedures. “We don’t know if it had anything to do with his own behavior on the chair,” Huey said. “We were not watching that.” She could only confirm that the ski bar was up when the boy fell.
Whatever the reason, the boy tumbled off the lift about halfway up the mountain, falling into a thick layer snow underneath. The patrol staff rushed over to the boy as quickly as they could. To their unimaginable relief, despite the massive height he’d fallen from, the boy was unharmed.
The resort, Huey says, has a 50-inch base depth. She believes that helped cushion his fall. The rest of it, though, she just chalked up to luck, telling KSL: “I think he just landed in a way that, fortunately, was not harmful and did not injure him.”
Hueys says that the resort does their best to ensure ski lift safety through “education and preparation”, and that there is medically-trained patrol team ever ready to help if anything does go wrong.
However, she encourages skiers to make sure the safety bar is down whenever they use the ski lift.
“It’s not mandatory and it’s not a restraining device in itself,” she told Dave & Dujanovic. However, she says that the bar asks as a “mental trigger” to make sure that people are following the ski lift safety rules: staying seated with bottoms and backs on their chair, facing forward for the whole ride.
Huey assured our listeners that the ski lifts at Solitude are completely safe. “It’s beautiful,” she says. “The sky is blue, the sun is out, the snow is soft, it’s crisp out there, and a lot of people are enjoying.”
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