Nearly two dozen passengers suffered injuries this morning when a gondola lift came to an abrupt stop at Mont-Sainte-Anne, a large resort near Quebec City. The incident occurred just before 10:00 am and cabins stopped suddenly enough that skis and snowboards fell from exterior racks. At least one cabin became lodged at an angle in a station with a broken window. Other cabins reportedly contacted towers. Out of the 21 people injured, 12 were transported to hospitals by ambulance.
By around 10:45, the gondola was restarted in reverse to unload riders. The rescue operation was completed by noon and the lift is now closed. A spokesperson for Mont-Sainte-Anne said there were 80 cabins on the line today and an investigation will be undertaken. “Our main objective is to make sure that everyone is taken care of quickly, then, afterwards, we will have more details on the mechanical aspects,” said Simon Lefebvre with the ski resort.
The gondola, known as L’Étoile Filante, was constructed by Doppelmayr and opened in 1989. It is the largest of seven lifts at Sainte-Anne, a mountain owned by Resorts of the Canadian Rockies. Calgary-based RCR operates a total of six ski resorts in Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec.
Later in the day, officials announced the mountain would close early due to the incident and investigation. The gondola will not return to operation any time this weekend.
An evening press release acknowledged a “sudden, unsolicited stop” which caused the cabins to swing. “Our maintenance teams are mobilized, as well as the ski lift manufacturer and several specialized subcontractors, in order to work in collaboration with the regulatory authorities to determine the cause of this sudden stop,” read the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies statement.
On Saturday afternoon, Mont-Sainte-Anne Vice President and General Manager Maxime Cretin issued the following update:
We would like to highlight the exemplary work of the first responders, as well as to thank all those who contributed to the response to yesterday morning’s incident at the cable car. We have a warm and sincere thoughts for all passengers on board during this incident, and we wish our injured customers a speedy recovery.
The teams of Mont-Sainte-Anne and the mechanical lift manufacturer, as well as specialized contractors, have been carrying out a complete inspection of the lift since yesterday afternoon to determine the cause of the sudden unexpected stop. We take this incident very seriously and we are determined to highlight what caused it.