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Still more sad news

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
January 17, 2003

Fatal fall under investigation

Reid Williams

KEYSTONE - Resort and state officials are continuing an investigation into the death of a Keystone Resort employee who fell from a lift Wednesday.

Kenneth Zech, 47, was pronounced dead at the Snake River Clinic after falling from the Summit Express lift about 4:20 p.m. A passing skier notified ski patrol after finding Zech on the Dutchman trail, but no witnesses saw the accident.

Keystone spokesman Mike Lee said Zech, a Summit House food and beverage worker from La Crosse, Wis., was descending the mountain via the lift as the resort closed up. Winds - gusting as high as 70 mph, Lee said - forced the resort to cancel night-skiing operations and call in employees off the resort's three peaks.

"Our investigator was hanging on to the lift for his life," said Summit County Sheriff's Office public information officer Jill Berman. Berman said a detective determined criminal activity was not suspected in the accident.

Thursday, the Summit Express lift remained closed as inspectors from the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board examined the lift. The tramway board is the state's regulating agency for all chairlifts; resorts are required to notify the board in the event of an accident. A board spokesman could not be reached for comment about Zech's death.

Lee said an autopsy will be performed, and the results might help investigators understand how the accident occurred.

"And they'll make sure there's nothing wrong with the lift," Lee said. "We just don't want to take any chances."

Zech is the second Colorado resort employee to die after a fall from a chairlift and the second Keystone employee to die this year. Ben Bornstein died Nov. 26 after the snowmaking pit he was working in filled with water. A Winter Park employee died Nov. 24 when he suffered a seizure and fell from the lift.
post #2 of 7
My first question is: Did the lift have a lift restraint bar? If so, was it in use at the time of the accident?

It's a New York State requirement that Ski lifts have restraint bars and and that they be used. As much as we try to enforce their use, you'd be supprised how many people think they don't have to. In years past there's been more than a few people fall out of chairs. The result isn't pretty.

I've been on quite a few chairs out West that don't have restraint bars. It can be scarey.
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Lars, the Summit chair is a quad with a safety bar. Have no idea if it was in use at the time.
post #4 of 7
The tram boards of Utah and Colorado, do not require lifts to have saft bars, or if they do have safty bars on lifts, passengers are not required to use them.
Even with the safty bar down, that dosen' totaly prevent some on from slipping off underneath.
post #5 of 7
Seat belts in cars don't keep you from being killed either but they definitly help. "IF YOU USE THEM"
post #6 of 7
Just curious, what is a "snowmaking pit" that the other employee died in??

I've never heard of anything like that, is it in the pump area?

Thanks Ben
post #7 of 7
It's basically a 4 foot deep and 4 foot wide hole in the ground where the pipes for compressed water and air come up through the ground below the "snowmaking pit".
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