Officials Blame Wind for Sugarloaf Ski Lift Accident - NECN

Officials Blame Wind for Sugarloaf Ski Lift Accident



    (NECN: Josh Brogadir, Carrabassett Valley, Maine) - State inspectors are at the Sugarloaf ski resort in Maine today, looking into a ski lift accident that sent eight people to the hospital on Tuesday.

    According to Sugarloaf officials, inspectors say wind played a likely factor in the chair lift derailment.

    "(It's) just like every other day, just taking a risk," said skier Abraham

    Shaken but not deterred, skiers were treated to a memorable sunrise as they got back on the lifts at Sugarloaf Ski Resort in Carrabassett Valley, Maine, one day after a cable derailment sent five chairs plummeting to the ground below.

    "We were there right before the gurneys were coming down and everyone was just really scared. There was about six people on the ground not moving," said skier Karen Dexter.

    Eight people went to the hospital.

    About 150 others were rescued.

    "The initial findings from the (Maine) tramway board is that most likely it was wind and we should know more later today," said Brad Larsen, Sugarloaf Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

    Snowmobiles were at the side of the 35 year old Spillway East lift Wednesday morning as inspectors examined the chairs and cables.

    And even after the derailment, Sugarloaf officials stand by the inspection record of all the lifts on the mountain.

    "All the equipment that we have here, we feel good about. If we didn't feel good about it, we wouldn't put people on it," Larsen added.

    He said the workers seen on top of the chairlift tower before the derialment was "part of the investigation."

    But Sugarloaf local and longtime season pass holder Bob Peruffo says the fixed double chair has been a concern to him for some time.

    "I hope it never runs again, that's my feeling and rumors abound that they may have it back up and running in a few weeks which I think is a big mistake. I've been on the lift when it's lurched back five, ten, fifteen feet. It's been a scary lift for a long time," Peruffo said.

    Judging from the lines this holiday vacation week, the masses are unfazed, back on the mountain in this sport where risk has always been part of the reward.

    "It's a little busy, I guess people aren't too bothered by the lift situation. I mean, kind of a freak thing, not worried about it happening again or anything like that," said skier Rowan Fraley.

    Five patients were treated at Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, another three trauma patients went to Maine Medical Center in Portland.

    Two other lifts are closed today because of the wind, in addition to the two that are closed because of the investigation, Spillway East and West.