CORNER BROOK — Chris Beckett, general manager of Marble Mountain, said Thursday the Government Services report on a lift accident at Marble Mountain was along the lines of what the ski facility had expected.
On Feb. 5 a young girl fell from the Black Mariah ski lift about 22 feet to a groomed trail below.
The seven-year-old broke her pelvis in the fall.
The girl, a member of Marble’s Krunchers program, had been seated on the chairlift with an instructor’s assistant and another student. As the chair passed Tower 1, the assistant reached up to bring down the safety restraint on the chair, when she heard the child gasp.
The assistant released the restraining device before it was lowered to reach out with both hands to try and keep the child from slipping from the chair. The assistant attempted to pull the child back into the chair using both hands, but was not able to hold on.
As the chair approached Tower 2 the child slipped from the assistant’s grasp and fell to the trail below.
The Government Services report lists human error as the cause of the accident.
The fact the restraining device was not in the fully lowered position and that other chairs and their riders obstructed the loading area attendant’s line of sight between the loading area and the chair the child was riding in, thus preventing the attendant from seeing the incident, were listed as contributing factors to the accident.
In the report, Marble Mountain was directed to relocate the sign advising patrons to lower the safety bar, as required by the CSA Standard Z98-07 — Passenger Ropeways and Passenger Conveyors Article 22.214.171.124, from Tower 1 to the Pillar Tower.
The company was also instructed to ensure an attendant is located where they can observe the ropeway operation, as required by CSA Standard Z98-07 — Passenger Ropeways and Passenger Conveyors Subsection 13.5.2.
“The stationary chair that we have at our beginners area was something we put in before the report was out. It was just a suggestion from our employees and we thought it was great and acted on it right away.” - Chris Beckett
Beckett said the signage is already in place.
As for the second directive, he said, “we’re working with the inspectors on that to try and fully understand what we can do. You can’t see the whole lift line from any vantage point on the chair, so we’re working with the lift inspectors to gain a better understanding of what can be done there.”
Beckett said he didn’t know how long the process would take.
In reaction to the accident, Beckett said Marble Mountain has put a teaching tool in place to help skiers learn how to get on a chairlift.
“The stationary chair that we have at our beginners area was something we put in before the report was out,” he said.
“It was just a suggestion from our employees and we thought it was great and acted on it right away.”
He said all beginner students, whether they’re a child or an adult, go through the training.
He said they “sit on that chair and experience what it’s like and when to lower the safety bar, how to lower the safety bar and review the signage.”
Beckett said instructors are enjoying using the tool and feedback from skiers has been positive.
“It breaks down the apprehension, the nervousness,” Beckett said, and helps skiers to be more comfortable getting on the lift.
Asked whether staff involved in the incident will face repercussions, Beckett said “absolutely not.
“Because they’re doing what they’re supposed to do based on the Z98 codes, so there’s no repercussions to any of our employees.”
The Western Star