This case involves injury at a ski resort in Vermont due to unsafe operation of a chairlift. On the date of the incident in question, a 22 year old female boarded a ski lift along with several of her friends. The lift appeared to be overcrowded, and witnesses attested to the fact that it seemed like there were too many people on the lift. As the lift started to ascend, the girl began slipping from her seat. The girl and her friends started to yell to the ski operator for help, but the operator was not paying attention at the time. The girl eventually slipped out of the chair and fell more than 30 feet to her death. It was claimed that the operator should not have allowed that many individuals to ride the lift at the same time.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please discuss your background in ski lift operations.
- 2. What could have been done to avoid this accident?
Expert Witness Response E-009261
This case is right in my area of expertise. I have been involved in the ski/snow sport industry for more than 40 years and I am very familiar with the duty of care for ski lifts. There are requirements for correct staffing and operation for a lift. It is the sole responsibility of the operator to make sure that people are seated properly. In this case, I would like to know if there was proper signage, if there were stop and slow button the operator could have used, and if they were wearing ear phones or if there were other distractions that prevented them from properly operating the lift. The duty of care is to see that people are on on the load platform properly prior to the chair scooping them up.