The family of a Texas woman killed following a chairlift malfunction that also seriously injured her two daughters has settled a wrongful death lawsuit. The wrongful death lawsuit was against the ski resort and the contractor.
Kelly Huber, 40, of San Antonio, was killed after falling from the Quickdraw Express high-speed quad at Ski Granby Ranch, CO, in December 2016. A police investigation at the time determined that the electronic drive system in the lift had issues that contributed to a sudden movement causing the chair to hit a lift tower before throwing the family off the chair. The 30-foot fall killed Kelly Huber and seriously injured her daughters, 9 and 12 at the time.
“Granby Police personnel did witness and document a series of tests conducted by engineers of the Passenger Tramway Safety Board involving the Quick Draw ski lift. Engineers were able to identify issues within the lift electrical drive/control system that contributed to a rare dynamic event that occurred on the lift at the time of the incident.”
– Police investigation
William Huber, the girls’ father, filed the lawsuit, claiming employees at the resort knew the lift was unsafe before the accident occurred.
The settlement amount has not been released, but in a statement, the family is said to be “pleased with the outcome and anxious to move on with their lives.”
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Huber’s death was the first caused by a malfunctioning chairlift in Colorado since a bullwheel fell off the then 2-year-old Teller lift at Keystone in 1985, killing two skiers and injuring 49, reports the Associated Press. Her death was the first nationally since a faulty chairlift killed a 9-year-old in 1993 at Sierra Ski Ranch in California.
According to The National Ski Areas Association, there have been 14 fatalities involving seven malfunctioning chairlifts between 1973 and 2020. During that time, the US resort industry provided 18.3 billion chairlift rides to guests, covering 9.2 billion miles.
Lawsuits against ski areas are rare, and most never reach a jury. States across the country have passed legislation that mirrors the 1979 Colorado Ski Safety Act, which outlines the responsibilities of both skiers and ski resorts and limits liability for resort operators. The legislation requires skiers to follow a responsibility code but allows lawsuits if skiers can prove negligence or reckless actions, like chairlift malfunctions.