A tree fell on the Short Cut triple around 10:45 am this morning at Park City Mountain, causing a ski patroller on the lift to fall more than 25 feet. Despite swift rescue efforts, the 29 year old worker did not survive. Ten other passengers on the lift were evacuated and several other chairlifts in the area were closed to support the ski patrol response. The mountain had received 25 inches of dense snow in the past 48 hours as part of a major storm cycle.
“The Park City Mountain team – as well as the entire Vail Resorts team – extend our deepest sympathy and support to the family and friends of our team member,” said Deirdra Walsh, Park City Mountain vice president & chief operating officer. “We are all deeply saddened by this tragic incident, and we will be providing support for our employees as we grieve this devastating loss.”
Short Cut was installed in 1997 and features triple chairs with lap bars. The lift will remain closed until an investigation is complete. Other lifts in the area are expected to reopen tomorrow.
Update 1/4: Authorities identified the deceased ski patroller as 29 year old Christian Helger of Millcreek, Utah. The cause of death will be determined by the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner.
Investigated an accident many years ago where a snow laden tree fell on a moving detachable lift. Several people were bounced out falling 20′ into deep powder. The only major injury was a guy got his teeth knocked out from the restraining bar flying up and hitting him in the mouth. Complete miracle no other major injuries occurred.
Deepest sympathies and condolences to all involved.
I can’t even imagine. I’ve ridden that chairlift many times and such a possibility never even occurred to me. My condolences to the family and colleagues of the deceased.
Note to anyone grousing about not being able to load a lift for some reason: your life and safety are far more important than powder turns.
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As stated in a previous post. I have seen this many times here in the Sierra. Sometimes the snow laden trees fall over roots and all from rain soaked ground prior to the rain turning to wet snow. 5’+ diameter Red Fir trees smashing sheave assemblies, derailing lifts, bending towers, tipping tower foundations and smashing carriers to the ground.
Most of the time this happens during a wind event in a storm when the lifts are out of operation.
I can remember shutting lifts down due to snow laden trees and a little wind.
Not often but occasionally.
This certainly can be an operational hazard that is very difficult to evaluate.
The heavy wet snow can remain on the trees for days if not weeks. With wind coming and going.
So operationally it becomes a very tough call.
Condolences to the friends and family. I rode a chair on a surging rope on Breckenridge’s Falcon lift in the 90’s (unidentified hard stop) which occurred while I was midway between 2 towers on a long span. The drop/lift of the rope and chair elevated myself, and chair mates, off the chair but we were retained by the lap bar. Passenger on the chair in front had no lap bar but managed to barely hang on. That rider was thrown into the footrests and chair overbar and got bounced back into the seat really hard, was scuffed up from the event but was really lucky he wasn’t boosted from the chair. Lap bars work.
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