Skiers were crushed after a ski lift malfunctioned sending chairs slamming into each other at Tussey Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania.
Not long after Tussey opened for the season on the morning of Saturday, Dec. 16, its primary aerial lift—a 1982 Borvig fixed-grip quad experienced a chair malfunction. As it approached the last towers in the span, a chair slipped backwards on the haul rope and collided with the chair behind it. The domino effect caused a total of four chairs to slip backwards before being stopped by a fifth chair. All the chairs were loaded with passengers.
According to reports, an operator manually stopped the lift, and emergency protocols began immediately. Ski patrol and other rescue personnel rope evacuated the passengers in the bunched chairs first before evacuating the rest of the chairs. A total of 76 passengers were lowered in less than two hours. At least five minor injuries were reported, with at least three people transported by ambulance to the hospital for treatment.
A statement from Tussey said, “The equipment in question was tested and given a passing grade by the PA Department of Labor & Industry’s Bureau of Occupational and Industrial Safety Elevator Division, however we have begun taking the necessary steps to ensure a situation like this will never happen again. We have contacted the manufacturer of the lift to diagnose what caused the malfunction, as well as the appropriate state agencies prior to re-opening.”
An investigation is underway and Tussey Mountain plans to release more information once the investigation concludes.
Images show how at least five ski chairs rammed into each other – trapping several skiers and snowboarders.
Chair lifts occasionally fail for many reasons including; cable stretch requiring replacement, poor design with too steep of a lift profile, or lack of cable grip maintenance.