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Bennington

Crotched: Skiers and lift operators share responsibility

Response comes after report released

BENNINGTON — Crotched Mountain officials last week responded to a recent report that determined a young child who fell from a chair lift on Dec. 11 was never properly seated.

In the report, Chief Tramway Inspector W. Briggs Lockwood said that the girl, age 6, and two other skiers from Hollis were boarding the “Rocket” high speed lift at about 4:05 p.m. The mother and another skier were waiting to be seated on either side of the woman’s daughter. The skiers, according to Lockwood, were not loaded properly and only the mother and the other skier were seated on the lift when it headed up the mountain. The mother held onto her daughter for about 90 seconds as the lift continued to move up the mountain. The girl eventually fell 30 feet, and the mother jumped out after her; both were injured and transported to hospitals.

Looking back at the incident, Crotched Mountain General Manager Pat Terry spoke about the role of lift attendants and the responsibility shared by skiers.

Since there is not much time in between people boarding the chair lift, Terry said, the line of responsibility can be drawn when the lift leaves the terminal. Since there is always another group of skiers ready to board, Terry said lift attendants can’t watch skiers both leaving and entering the lift terminal.

“They can’t monitor people as they go up,” Terry said. “[Lift attendants] need to focus on the next person.”

He said the lift attendants are responsible for two things. “It’s the responsibility of the lift attendants to make sure [the lift] is operating correctly and pay attention.”

Although Crotched Mountain’s “Rocket” chair lift is noted for its speed, it is also a detachable chair lift. As a chair approaches the lift terminal, it detaches from the high-speed cable and slows down as it enters the terminal, Terry said. Once skiers board the chair lift the chair reconnects to the high-speed cable as it leaves the terminal and picks up speed.

“[The chairs] come in slower than a fixed grip lift chair,” Terry said.

Crotched Mountain always has ongoing training for employees, Terry said. He said there have not been any changes to lift operating procedures or staff instructions since the accident.

Guests need to “queue up into a line and wait for the next chair,” Terry said, in regards to the skiers responsibility. Once riders sit down on a lift chair, it is their responsibility to pull down the safety bar if they wish. In an interview with Terry on Dec. 16 he said that since riders board the lift as it is moving, it is the responsibility — not a requirement — of the rider to pull down the safety bar, he said.

In the case of the Dec. 11 incident

As of Jan. 6 Crotched Mountain is not facing charges for the chair lift accident, according to Chief Tramway Inspector W. Briggs Lockwood.

Lindsey Arceci can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 232, or larceci@ledgertranscript.com.

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