By: Emily Bunn
Camelback Ski Resort in Tannersville, PA has been long known to ski enthusiasts around the tri-state area as a winter wonderland. That is, until last weekend, when a ski lift malfunction resulted in the injury of a father and his two children. The victims, who remain unnamed, were plummeted off the Sullivan Express Lift approximately 15 ft into the snowy mountain side while approaching the top of the mountain at around 3:30 pm on Sunday, March 21.
Liftblog reports that “A local dispatch log notes a call came in at 3:39 pm for a 40 year old male with back and hip injury, a 12 year old male with an arm injury and a 9 year old female with an abdominal injury.” All three involved victims were taken by ambulance to St. Luke’s University Health Network.
Newswatch 16 talked to bystander Douglas Mackie, who had been riding just one seat behind the malfunctioning seat of the affected family. Mackie remarked on the incident:
“It sounded like they hit the pole. I heard this sound, and they went flying, and the whole gondola came right off the cable”… “It hit the ground, and the kids were screaming, and I remember the screams. It was bad. I just remember that the most. I mean, it was these two little kids. It was a lot.”
Mackie, who was accompanied by his 12-year old son, reflected on the harrowing accident to WFMZ: “I can’t stop seeing that. I just hear the kids. I’m never going to forget what I heard.”
Mackie had kindly allowed for the family involved in the lift accident to cut in line before him, and reflects that without that tiny, instantaneous decision, he and his own son could have fallen victim to injury.
Despite the fact, FOX56 reports that Mackie remains in support of Camelback Mountain and will be returning to the mountain:
“God bless Camelback they did a great job. [There was] all of a sudden a swarm of Camelback people there to assist. Sure, I promise you when I get on a lift I will be thinking about it, there will never be a time when I get on a lift I’ll think this is 100 percent safe, but I’m not gonna stop living.”
Liftblog provided insight into the specifics of the involved lift’s safety record: “The lift involved is a 1995 Doppelmayr detachable quad with DS series grips. It operates in winter as well as summer for water park operations. While Doppelmayr detachable lifts have an excellent safety record, other instances of chairs falling have occurred.”
The managing director of Camelback Resort, Shawn Hauver, commented on the incident:
“We are devastated by the weekend’s events on the Sullivan Lift and our hearts go out to the family involved. We thank you for your patience as we continue to conduct a thorough investigation. In the meantime, the Sullivan Lift remains closed.”
Some speculation has been garnered online, as the resort didn’t publicly issue a statement until 24 hours after the event on Monday morning, after the resort had already opened.
The ski resort has posted a statement on Facebook stating that “Camelback Resort is working with the appropriate state authorities to investigate yesterday’s incident involving the Sullivan lift. The health and safety of our guests and associates is and remains our number one priority.”
The Sullivan lift remains closed as of Tuesday, March 23 until further notice.