Fatal Accident Sheds Light on Ski Lift Safety

A woman recently died after a 25-foot fall.

January 2, 2015, 8:14 AM

— -- One person died and at least two others were injured after falling from chairlifts during the past week, in one of the busiest times of the year for skiing.

A Brooklyn mother, 44, died in upstate New York Sunday when she fell 25 feet. Her death was later ruled accidental.

Tyler Russell, 10, fell nearly 20 feet from a lift in Oregon last Saturday while trying to adjust his snowboard.

“I said, ‘I’m going to put my foot behind my snowboard,’ and then I went forward too much,” said Russell, who wasn’t seriously injured.

A 5-year-old was hospitalized in New York Tuesday after slipping under his chair’s safety bar and falling 18 feet.

In truth, you’re more likely to die riding an elevator than a ski lift, with 15 deaths reported in the past four decades, and no fatalities from a chairlift malfunction since 1993, according to the National Ski Areas Association, which represents ski area owners and operators.

But Mike Russo, the risk and safety manager at Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado, said skiers need to know the risks of riding on a chairlift, and take safety seriously.

“If you think you are going to drop something like a pole or a glove,” he said, “it’s best just to let that item drop and then somebody can go back around and pick it up for you.”

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