Skier's Nightmare Quad Chair Fall Injures Family

snow action team 23.03.2021

Any resort skier’s nightmare has to be a chair failure – who hasn’t thought about it, especially dangling high up somewhere?

That nightmare came true for a father and two young children at Pennsylvania’s Camelback Mountain resort Sunday, when a quad chair flipped up near vertical then came right off the Sullivan Express lift according to an eyewitness traveling behind.

Doug Mackie had been ahead of the father in the liftline but ushered him through to go ahead, otherwise it would have been him and his son on the falling chair as he tells ABC Philadelphia’s Action News in this clip.

The lift – a 1995 Doppelmayr detachable quad – made a sudden stop and the chairs started swaying prior to the chair popping off. There were only light winds at the time.

Camelback is a year round recreational facility complete with indoor water park and the lift runs year round too.

The Sullivan Express remains closed, the below statement on the resort’s instagram. Not surprisingly, there was a pile on of comments. The lift was allowed to keep running on the day according to those, which is surprising.

Doppelmayr make great lifts, but they are not immune to conditions and maintenance fails. The former applied at Thredbo twice when chairs flipped on the Gunbarrel lift in strong winds – as we reported last year, a benefit of the the Merrit’s Gondola installation was Doppelmayr crew here for that oversaw a remedy for the problem so it should not ever happen again.

Our thoughts go out to the injured dad and his two kids. So far no official details of their conditions have been released, only sketchy social media speculation based on overheard despatcher’s reports. Hopefully the delay in condition updates does not mean any of their conditions are serious.

What’s the worst experience you’ve had on a chairlift?

The cable going backwards gathering speed on an old double chair at Cerro Catedral would have to be ours. We were getting ready to jump – onto grassy mud from 6-10m up – when the lifties at the bottom managed to salvage the situation jamming skis into the bullwheel.

I’ve avoided that lift as much as possible ever since. Another time, different creaky lift, same resort my buddy said something I always remember when the wind gets up or the lift is just a bit suss somewhere (many in Japan don’t inspire a lot of confidence, especially at smaller resorts) – roll forward don’t land sitting on your spine.