A San Antonio woman was killed and her two children were injured in a chairlift accident about two weeks ago. According to several news outlets, Kelly Huber, 40, died from a traumatic rupture of her aorta after falling approximately 25 feet onto hard-packed snow, and her two daughters, 9 and 12, were hospitalized but survived the incident.
The accident took place at the Ski Granby Ranch, located about ninety miles northwest of Denver, Colorado on Thursday, December 29th 2016.
According to the report released by the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board late Monday afternoon, issues within the chairlift’s electrical drive / control system contributed to “a rare dynamic event” that resulted in the incident.
The investigation is still ongoing, but the board has since allowed the lift to reopen, albeit under a diesel engine system and with new inspection requirements for the Ranch.
According to the Ski Lift Safety Fact Sheet released by the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) in October 2016, there have been only 12 recorded fatalities as a result of chairlift malfunctions in the United States since 1973, out of over 16.7 billion lift rides given to skiers and snowboarders over the past four decades or so.
Statistically, a passenger is “five times more likely” to suffer a fatality riding an elevator than from riding a ski lift, and “eight times more likely” to suffer a fatality in a car.
This incident is therefore all the more unusual and notable in that it is, in fact, purportedly the first fatality resulting from a lift malfunction since 1993.