More details have emerged about the tragic accident at Park City Mountain Resort, UT, on Monday when an employee was killed after a tree fell on a chairlift.
The employee was an on-duty ski patroller. The 29-year-old was riding the Short Cut chair when “a large pine tree fell onto the chair lift itself, the cable, which caused some oscillating of the chair itself,” said Andrew Wright with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. It is unknown at this moment whether the chairlift safety bar was down, as per Vail Resorts’ employee policy.
Original reports claimed the employee fell 25 feet, but initial investigations put that closer to 50 feet. Rescuers had to dig through chest-deep snow to reach the victim, leading to a theory that the patroller could have died from asphyxiation or suffocation
“We don’t know right now what the cause of death is. It could be an injury from the fall. It could also be asphyxiation or suffocation from being in the deep snow. The medical examiner will determine that cause of death.”
– Andrew Wright
According to Robert Miles, traffic and safety director at the Utah Department of Transportation, “ski lifts should have a 5-foot clearance around them when they’re operating from vegetation, tree branches, trees, anything of that sort. Trees can tower above and within the radius of a lift; only the ones that are dying or look as if they are about to fall need to be cleared.” The investigation will look at whether this was the case at Park City Mountain Resort.
Original post published 1/3/23 0716 PST – A Park City Mountain Resort, UT, employee was killed yesterday after a tree fell on the line of the Short Cut chairlift.
The accident occurred around 10:45 am when an on-duty employee riding the Short Cut chairlift was knocked off the lift after a tree hit the line, a statement from Sara Huey, senior communications manager at PCMR, confirmed.
The employee fell at least 25 feet. Ski patrol responded immediately, but lifesaving efforts were unsuccessful.
“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. We are all deeply saddened by this tragic incident, and we will support our employees as we grieve this devastating loss.”
– Deirdra Walsh, Park City Mountain vice president & chief operating officer
Short Cut lift was fully evacuated by ski patrol by 1:06 pm. Nearby lifts were also closed to support the response to the accident but will reopen today. Short Cut lift will remain closed pending an investigation.
Short Cut and Orange Bubble lifts will be CLOSED for the remainder of the day. @PCski
— ParkCityMtnAlert (@PCMtnAlert) January 2, 2023