Ski Lift Accidents Not Common, Still Painful

The fact that you are more likely to get hurt in a car accident or riding down the slopes than riding on a ski lift is no comfort to Rick Tonge and his son, who plunged 30 feet after their lift malfunctioned at Sugarloaf Ski Resort in Maine.

Tonge said he heard some banging and clanging, then the lift stopped and started several times. He noticed a mechanic working on one of the lift towers, then saw that one of the wheels that hold the cable the chairs were secured to was crooked. Then he was falling.

“They’re lucky people didn’t get killed,” said Tonge. While Tonge hurt his back, his 26-year-old son spent months in a brace while recovering from a compression fracture of his spine. Reports say six other people wound up in the hospital from the incident.

Lift accidents do not happen that often, though. The National Ski Areas Association reports 12 deaths attributed to ski lift malfunctions since 1973, with the last one occurring 18 years ago. In 1976, a ski lift accident killed four people in Vail, Colorado, and another accident in 1978 killed four people in Squaw Valley, California.

Every activity has certain inherent risks. We just hope none of the ski lift accidents that do occur are due to a ski company’s negligence.

The Metier Law Firm, LLC – Denver injury attorneys

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