An Auckland, New Zealand woman fell roughly 20-feet from a chairlift on Tuesday, August 3, and suffered nine cracked ribs, a punctured lung, liver bleeding, and a broken pelvis and arm. 35-year-old Janette Adams said she slipped while getting on a chairlift at Cardrona Alpine Resort in New Zealand. She held onto the chair for a while before eventually letting go and falling onto the snow below. The New Zealand Herald reports that Adams said lift operators were not paying attention and did not stop the lift when she was dangling from the chair.
Adams managed to hold onto the chair’s armrest and her niece grabbed hold of her, but she was left holding on for dear life as the chairlift kept on moving.
“I’m quite short of stature,” Adams told RNZ from her hospital bed. “I was getting on the chair with my niece. I was sliding back into the chair and my edge caught on the snow and I have pulled forward again and we didn’t have the [protective] T-bar over yet… I ended up just hanging on with one arm.
Adams reports that she held on for several more lift towers as the chair continued traveling up the hill. She told RNZ that her niece was trying to hang on to her, but that she didn’t want both of them to fall. That’s when Adams decided it’d be better to just let go and jump—especially since resort staff still hadn’t stopped the lift. She let go and fell a reported 6 meters (~20 feet) to the hardpack snow below.
She sustained serious injuries including nine cracked ribs, a fractured pelvis and arm, liver bleeding, and a punctured lung. Adams described the situation to an RNZ reporter as “absolutely terrifying” and, while she said how she slipped was a “freak thing,” she was still unsure as to why the chairlift was not stopped, RNZ reports.
“Towards the end, people were shouting out ‘stop the chairlift, stop the chairlift’ but they just weren’t stopping the chairlift,” Adams told RNZ. “I can’t imagine why because they often stop the chairlift straight away when they can see someone’s caught an edge or had a bit of difficulty. But it just went on and on.”
The New Zealand Herald reports that Adams was hanging from the chair sometime after loading onto the Captain’s Express chairlift and that she fell between towers 6 and 7. She received medical attention from Cardona’s ski patrol team and was transferred to Dunedin by St John’s for further assessment and treatment.
Laura Hedley, general manager of Cardrona and Treble Cone Experiences, said an internal review of the incident is currently underway.
“We notified WorkSafe immediately, and conducted interviews of witnesses as part of an internal review that is ongoing,” Hedley told RNZ. “As per our policies, staff involved were drug and alcohol tested directly following the incident and returned clear results. Sound testing was also conducted to verify witness statements. We will work closely with WorkSafe and are supporting our staff as the investigation continues. We have been in contact with the Adams family, and we will continue to support them throughout this process. This has been, and will continue to be, a difficult time for all involved, and our thoughts are with Mrs. Adams and her family.”