Tussey Mountain ski lift malfunctions
Multiple fire companies, ambulance services and police were called to Tussey Mountain on opening day of the season for a malfunctioning ski lift that left about 50 people stranded.
The incident occurred at about 10 a.m. Saturday.
A chair on the lift slid backward on the haul rope into the one behind it, causing a domino effect that resulted in four slipped chairs, said Aaron Weyman, Tussey Mountain’s marketing director.
As a result, the lift had to be shut down in order to maintain the safety of it, said State College police Lt. Bradley Smail.
There were at least five minor injuries reported, Smail said.
Weyman said at least three people were transported by ambulance to the hospital, and the most severe injury they know of is a possible broken jaw.
“We take the safety of our guests very seriously,” Weyman said.
He said they were “saddened” that people were injured as a result of the accident.
Tussey Mountain apologized for the inconvenience caused to all skiers and snowboarders and thanked everyone for their patience and understanding, according to Weyman.
It took ski patrol and emergency officials about two hours to evacuate those who were stranded on the lift.
“They placed their first priority on the people at the top that were injured, and they tried to get them down,” Smail said.
The injured were brought down the mountain on sleds, while others were able to ski or snowboard to the bottom.
To evacuate people from the lift, ski patrol throws a rope up over the cable and put a loop around the person to lower them down, said Dave Guss, who’s been on ski patrol for 30 years. He was in the lodge, helping to keep track of the people who were coming down from the lift.
It’s a “high angle rescue,” he said, and it’s sort of a rock climbing technique.
Guss said ski patrol practices it three or four times per year.
Ski patrol did a “fantastic” job, Smail said.
The equipment in question was tested and given a passing grade by the state Department of Labor and Industry’s Bureau of Occupational and Industrial Safety Elevator Division, Weyman said.
Tussey has begun taking necessary steps to make sure a situation like this never happens again, he said. The ski resort has contacted the manufacturer of the lift to diagnose what caused the malfunction. Appropriate state agencies have also been contacted.
Centre Hall, Alpha and Boalsburg fire departments, Centre LifeLink EMS, Penn State ambulance services and State College police responded to the scene.
Weyman said they hope to reopen on Friday.