Chairlift Fatality caused by Drive System Modification

Preliminary investigation into the death of Texas mom Kelly Huber in a chairlift accident at Ski Granby Ranch Dec. 29 now suggests that the likely cause was an independent contractor’s modification to the lift’s electrical drive/control system, according to a statement released by the resort.

The lift, the Quick Draw Express, had been operating safely at Granby Ranch since its installation 16 years ago, “up until an independent contractor made modifications to the lift’s electrical drive/control system before the start of the current ski season,” the resort’s statement said. “This independent contractor is not affiliated with the lift’s original manufacturer.”

“After the modifications to the lift’s electrical drive/control system were made, the lift was load-tested on December 5, 2016, by the Tramway Board. The lift was licensed for operation on December 9, 2016, and was put in operation on December 16, 2016. The incident occurred 13 days later. Granby Ranch had followed all prescribed protocols in operating the lift,” the statement said.

Granby Ranch has retained Leitner-Poma, the original manufacturer of the lift, to install a new electric drive “in the near future” and return the lift to operation under electric power, once the new drive has been tested, inspected, licensed, and authorized to operate by the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board, the statement noted.

In a separate action, the Quick Draw Express lift, which has been operating under diesel auxiliary power since Jan. 10, has been temporarily shut down for additional testing, following a directive from the CPTSB. “The current tests are being done out of an abundance of caution to assure the continued safe operation of the lift,” according to the resort. Granby Ranch is working with the Tramway Board to complete the new tests and re-open the lift under diesel power as soon as possible.

These steps follow the tragic incident on December 29, 2016, when a skier lost her life and two family members were injured after they fell from the lift. (See earlier reports on this site for more details.)