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Scariest Chair Lift Ride of my life - Page 2

post #31 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richie-Rich View Post

My GF read about this in the news....wow man youre lucky to have jumped that video is nuts.
a perfect example of taking control of your own life.  there are only a few moments like that in your life.  cherish it.  they are what make you feel truly alive. even the great glen plake talks about the few moments in your life that make you feel truly alive.
post #32 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by guroo270 View Post



  there are only a few moments like that in your life.  cherish it.  
 

I'm hoping not to have too many moments like that in my life!  It is amazing  to see the pictures of the aftermath.  I'm glad it wasn't worst for everyone involved.
post #33 of 48
Wow, IL, very scary stuff.

Glad you made the jump in time!
post #34 of 48
Just reading this made me shake!!  I am glad you are ok and others made it off without being killed or severly injured.  I can only hope this awful accident causes some mountains to examine the safety of lifts and prevent this kind of situation from happening again in the future.
post #35 of 48
You got old lift problems and then you got brand new Gondola's that are not on US Government maps like this one in 1998 that got hit by a Jet. Moral of the story is don't ride new lifts until you see them on Google maps. 

U.S. Maps Become Legal Issue in Alpine Cable Accident


post #36 of 48
Thread Starter 
Here are the findings that Devils Head has released on their website today:

DEVIL’S HEAD RESORT RELEASES FINDINGS ON LIFT INCIDENT
Combination of mechanical failure and failure of the backup braking systems; resort outlines steps to prevent future occurrences; lift to be returned to service next week.

Merrimac, Wisc. (Dec. 26, 2009) – Devil’s Head Resort has announced findings on the causes of a chairlift accident that injured 14 last week.  The primary cause of the accident was a massive failure of the chairlift’s gearbox.  A gearbox is a device that receives mechanical power from the lift’s electric motor and reduces RPMs through a complex series of gears, which then powers the lift. 
With the gearbox out of commission, the lift’s service brake, which is the primary braking system on the lift, was inoperable.
The lift, “Chairlift 3,” had two backup systems designed to prevent a rollback such as the one that occurred.  The first such system, called a “drop dog,” is located at the top terminal of the lift. The drop dog is designed to drop into slots in the top bullwheel, preventing rotation.
The drop dog system was properly deployed, but failed to engage completely with the bullwheel.
The second system, a drive-sheave or “e-brake system,” is deployed at the bottom terminal.  Again, lift operations personnel followed correct procedures in deploying the system, but the braking was inadequate to prevent the rollback.  Further analysis on why this component failed to stop the lift will require additional testing once the lift is repaired early next week.
“At this point, it’s clear that the accident resulted from a combination of an unforeseen mechanical failure and the failure of the backup braking systems,” said Devil’s Head General Manager Joe Vittengl.  “The entire Devil’s Head family truly regrets that this occurred, and we’re working hard to ensure the safety of all of our guests.”
 
OUTLINES ACTION PLAN
Although the resort’s lifts were all inspected prior to the season, Vittengl said that Devil’s Head Resort immediately re-inspected all of its lifts after the incident, paying special attention to the backup braking systems.  With the exception of Chairlift 3, all lifts are in service.  Additionally:
-          All drop-dog devices and chairlift braking systems have been checked.
 
-          Beginning next week, qualified technicians will conduct comprehensive inspections on the gearboxes of other lifts similar to the one that failed.  The inspections will include chemical analysis of gearbox lubricants, which can provide clues to mechanical issues.
 
-          The resort has begun to add electronically-controlled, automatic anti-rollback devices to all chairlifts.  Newer lifts are required to have them; lifts of older design are “grandfathered” under tramway codes.  Chairlift 3 will have this system installed prior to re-opening. 
 
-          Even though the operators of Chairlift 3 followed the correct procedures, the resort is reviewing safety protocols with all lift operations personnel.  Further, it is reviewing procedures with its lift maintenance team.
 
REPAIRS TO CHAIRLIFT #3
Chairlift 3 is currently undergoing repairs.  Vittengl said that Devil’s Head has replaced the gearbox and have conducted a thorough inspection of all electrical and mechanical systems.
In addition to replacing the gearbox and other steps outlined above, the resort is conducting a complete inspection of the wire rope that holds up the chairs that carry passengers. 
The lift will also undergo a full “load test” prior to opening, which is required of all new lifts and periodically during a lift’s operating life.  Supervised by the State of Wisconsin Inspector, the load test is done to simulate the weight of passengers, and then put the lift through a series of tests to ensure that all systems are functioning properly.
Vittengl said that he expects the lift to return to service sometime next week.
“We’re incredibly grateful that the injuries resulting from this incident weren’t as severe as they might have been,” Vittengl said.  Thirteen out of the 14 persons injured were released from the hospital the evening of the incident.
Vittengl noted that a gearbox failure of this sort can’t be predicted. 
Vittengl said ”we are extremely grateful and fortunate for the support and precise actions demonstrated by the Devil’s Head Maintenance crew, the Devil’s Head Ski Patrol, local firefighters,  area emergency response teams, St. Clare and Sauk Prairie Memorial Hospitals, the State of Wisconsin Inspectors and even some of our guests.”
post #37 of 48
As ski areas start to pinch pennies to survive this recession, we should watch for sub-standard mechanical maintenance..

To me Devil's Head's report is total bullshit, lots of garbled explanations and cover up language. People should not ski there for a month or so, forcing them out of business. If anything good is to come out of this economic slow-down, it will be to strip the crappy ski areas off the face of the earth.
post #38 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post

As ski areas start to pinch pennies to survive this recession, we should watch for sub-standard mechanical maintenance..

To me Devil's Head's report is total bullshit, lots of garbled explanations and cover up language. People should not ski there for a month or so, forcing them out of business. If anything good is to come out of this economic slow-down, it will be to strip the crappy ski areas off the face of the earth.


It's an accident. The systems where tested at the start of the season just like every other ski hill. Mechanical defects do occur. Really what else is Devil Heads or any other resort suppose to do??? Tear out all lifts older then 25 years or whatever and replace them with new ones with better safety standards???

To boycot the resort seems little harsh if you ask me.

Many ski resorts have a hard time making money the way it is. Lifts are usually low on the list of improvements at many resorts because of the cost. One new lift cost more then remodeling many buildings or building new lodges or whatever.
post #39 of 48
Wow...  Glad you're okay, IL skier.  Scary stuff. 
post #40 of 48

Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post

As ski areas start to pinch pennies to survive this recession, we should watch for sub-standard mechanical maintenance..

To me Devil's Head's report is total bullshit, lots of garbled explanations and cover up language. People should not ski there for a month or so, forcing them out of business. If anything good is to come out of this economic slow-down, it will be to strip the crappy ski areas off the face of the earth.

I have to agree with skylolow...very knee-jerk reaction here, very typical of any un-forseen event.  "Boycott", "coverup", "force them out of business"...what good will it do?  "Crappy area"?  No...just not as affluent as the destination resorts out west.  People out here in the sticks need a little bit of fun in the winter too - it's pretty long in these parts.  Any area/resort being closed for ANY reason is tragic in my opinion. 

It's an ACCIDENT.  They happen every day.  If you go through life thinking you can avoid every possible situation that can arise in life, I really feel sorry for you.  Hell...you say you live in Tahoe -- didn't some folks die in inbounds slides there last year?  Should we close down any area that has a propensity for avalanche conditions?  It's life, man...it happens every day. 

Don't go outside...it could kill you...
post #41 of 48
That's a good point, no arguement with that. Are there no better areas to support? I guess probably not.

It just wrankles me imagining some guys behind closed doors deciding to reduce maintenance to save money they earn from skiers they endanger by reducing safety maintenance. But I'm imagining that scene, and it may never have taken place.

I understand where you're going with the analogy, but a natural, weather-caused event is not the same as not tuning up your chair regularly. One is beyond man, the other IS man. And we are in the process of paying for those tragedies by experiencing a higher level of closures.
post #42 of 48
I can pretty much assure you that there are no meetings behind closed doors where MANDATORY maintenance issues are skipped to save money.  It's not something determined by the area.  It's a state mandated inspection.  Mechanical failures can sometimes be caught, but not all the time.  It's the nature of all things - sooner or later, something will fail.  In this case, it was that ONE THING that made all the difference.  I've sat on lifts that have broken down, and the back-up diesel motor was not working either for almost an hour - a failure, and although not a life-threatening one, a failure all the same.  If it had been -20F, people could have suffered frostbite injuries.  Also, I don't consider in-bounds slides "beyond man" for the most part.  It's a maintenance issue like any other, and any area with avie-controllers will probably tell you that while there is always a chance of a problem, if they've done their job to the best of their abilities, the chance of a slide is minimal.  If they didn't, you wouldn't see those areas open. 

All this said, I know that the lifts at my area were re-inspected after this, as I believe some of them were similar in design, and I'm betting that was the case in many places, and as they had already passed their inspections this year, this was above and beyond. 

Again, I'm not trying to take anything away from you & your experience.  It was an accident, and probably unforseeable as most are.  I doubt it was anything they had decided to "skimp on" - I try to not be that jaded about the ski industry...yet. 
Edited by axebiker - 12/26/09 at 8:11pm
post #43 of 48
I, we, humans do over-estimate the amount of control we have over things. In fact it's a random, senseless world and we do what we can in the face of realizing our impotence. 

You have given it some thought and bring up some points. I am mistrusting of parts of the industry, jaded? maybe.

All this information about bad things happening on lifts, several posts have some aspect of it, makes it harder to just rest on the chair so I can just ski
edit:
It reminds me of something I dislike and suspect in Tahoe. Rafting operations. They turn the river into a circus. they use really old second hand busses to shuttle people back a couple miles. Old, poluting, noisy, smelly, crappy busses. When one loses its brakes and goes over a cliff, what will be the conclusion drawn about diligence and compassion and safety. Just savin' a buck. 

If you can't afford safe equiptment, you are not dealing with the actual costs of running your business. Inspect some old piece of crap all you want, it's still an old piece of crap.
Edited by davluri - 12/26/09 at 10:27pm
post #44 of 48
We just finished a thread about a week ago on jumping off a ski chair.  Some bears said never.  A couple added the reverse chair lift scenario is a time you HAVE TO GET OFF.  Glad you survived ILL.  Anyone who doesn't believe there is a time to get off, view the reeverse chair video listed earlier and I guarantee you will change your mind - or die.

Agree slider, I like T bars.   The most fun Poma in the World.  Portillo Chile Rokka Jac, 5 person pomas up an expert hill.  Wow what a ride, almost more fun than coming down.
post #45 of 48
Wow... I almost didn't believe it when I first read it.  What you experienced was a rollback and it's happened VERY few times.  Older lifts like this one are definitely more susceptible because the braking mechanisms aren't built into the gearboxes.  Still, there are multiple, redundant braking mechanisms that should have prevented this, though it sounds like one of them may have kicked in after you jumped off.
post #46 of 48
If you re-read the Devil's Head incident report thoroughly, then you will notice that it IS exactly one of the reasons why the lift failed, BECAUSE the braking system WAS INTEGRATED into the gearbox. The gearbox went bad and the main braking system went out of commission with it, probably because the breaking system is integrated and works with the gearbox to engage the wheel to stop the cable.
post #47 of 48
Thread Starter 

I just found the copy of the commerce department incident report.  Scary stuff!

 

Here is the full report from the Commerce Dept.:

Regarding the incident at Devil's Head Ski Resort on 12/17/09:

On, 12/18/09, I responded to Devil's Head Ski Resort to investigate an incident that occurred the evening of 12/17/09, which involved Chair Lift #3. I was advised that the lift had rolled backwards and had injured approximately 14 people. Upon my arrival I met with Joe Vittengl, General Manager. I asked Vittengl to gather all of the information he had about the lift, such as maintenance records, test records, names of people involved, including the operator and witnesses, the manual for the lift, and copies of prior inspection reports. I then proceeded to examine the area where the lift was located with Leroy Blacklock who is the Mountain Manager and Mark Konkel who is the Lead Mechanic. I observed three chairs had come off of the wire rope and debris was scattered around the loading area. I also observed one chair that had come off the rope near the first tower. I asked Blacklock and Konkel what had happened. They advised that they were unsure as they were not on site at the time of the incident. Blacklock provided me a ride to the top of the hill where I was able to observe the top wheel. I observed that it had anti-rollback devices on top of the wheel which appeared to be rusted. I asked Blacklock and Konkel if they believe these devices were placed properly and if they engaged at the time of the incident, and they advised that they were unsure.

After reviewing the area and the lift, I made contact with Vittengl again. At this time, I met up with Sauk Country Sheriff's Detective, Scott Dadam. Dadam proceeded to accompany me throughout the remainder of the investigation. Dadam and I reviewed the maintenance records and lift log for Lift #3. We observed that the lift log was filled out on a daily basis. On the day of the incident, we noted that the initial operator, who checked the lift off and tested the safety brakes on the lift, had not done a safety check or stop at the beginning of the shift. We also observed that on this particular day, the individual who checked off this log had failed to properly fill it out. There are 23 boxes to check off; we counted a total of 17 check marks. We observed similar mistakes with the lift log sheets on a couple previous days, but on all previous days, all operators had performed an initial safety check. On the lift log check off sheet, we observed an area that states, "E-Brake (tested by lift mechanic prior.)" I asked Konkel, the lead mechanic how often the Emergency Brakes are tested and he stated he usually checks them weekly. I asked Konkel where he documents his E-Brake tests, and he advised that he writes the information down in the Lift Maintenance Log. In examining the Lift Maintenance Log, I observed that on Dec. 9, 2009, Bill B., performed a brake test on Lift #3. I observed that prior to this; the last brake test documented was on Mar. 10, 2009.

After reviewing Devil's Head's maintenance records, lift log records, and test records, I addressed my concern with Vittengl about the way Devil's Head was maintaining their documentation. I requested from Vittengl copies of training records for employees, including operators. Vittengl was unable to provide documentation that employees had been properly trained on maintaining and operating the ski lifts. Vittengl did advise me that the operator, George Rettamel, who was running the lift at the time of the incident, was working with them for his second season. He stated that Rettamel was an experienced operator, and had gone through an initial training when he was hired during his first season. Vittengl provided me with a copy of a video that they require all operators to watch prior to operating a lift. Vittengl advised that he was sure that Rettamel had watched the video when he was hired, but was unable to provide any further documentation on training records.

Page 2

Dadam and I then reviewed copies of an inspection report that had been completed by Sam Geise, Geise Engineering, Inc., third party inspector, in November, 2009. We observed in his report for Wells Fargo Insurance that he had recommended Devil's Head install a device that would automatically active the E-Brake in the event of a "rollback." Dadam and I then met with Geise who explained to us, that he had recommended this as an extra precaution that the insurance company would be requiring them to install. Geise advised that he did not believe it was a requirement by code to have this particular device installed. Geise stated that his initial observation of the site, led him to believe that the three braking systems, the service brake, the anti-rollback devices, and the E-brake, on the lift had failed. He advised he would be doing a thorough inspection of the lift to determine what happened, and why the braking systems failed.

On 12/20/09, I received an email from Geise who was performing the investigation as to what malfunctioned with Lift #3. Geise states, "Yesterday we discovered the gear box had failed on lift 3 at Devils Head causing the roll back. The failure of the gear box removed the service brake from the system (one of two working brakes). Because the emergency brake can now not be tested we don't know its condition. You can see the service brake drum on the gear box of the lift that was removed today. I have completed reinspection of all the lifts and I look forward to meeting with you Monday." Geise attached pictures of the gear box.

On 12/21/09, I made follow-up contact with Sam Geise. I was accompanied by Dadam. Geise advised that he had finished his inspection Lift #3 to determine what the cause of the incident was on 12/17/09. Geise advised that he discovered that the gear had broken in three spots. Geise stated that once this gear broke, the service brake would no longer be effective. Geise stated that he inspected the anti-rollback devices, and found them to be rusted and corroded. Geise advised that the anti-rollback devices never engaged when the lift started to roll back. Geise also advised that the operator had pushed the E-Brake button, but had been slightly delayed as he had first attempted to use the service brake and was unsure if the operator at top had pushed the button. Geise stated that the Insurance Company Risk Manager took an official statement from the operator. Geise stated that he had re-inspected the other lifts while he was on site, and found that three additional lifts needed to replace anti-rollback devices. Geise also advised he was addressing the concern with documentation and maintenance records with Devil's Head Management. Geise also informed me that the maintenance staff will be looking at the gear boxes on the other lifts to determine if they have similar concerns.

On 12/21/09, I received the following email from Geise. Geise indicates him his email that the lifts that will need to have anti-rollback devices replaced are #00, #1, and #3. Geise also states in this email that he discovered that the anti-rollback devices were not properly installed. Geise advises that this was the cause of the anti-rollback device failure.

At this time, Devil's Head Resort's Lift #3 has been red tagged. This lift can not be used until it is re-inspected by a State Inspector. Devil's Head is currently working on repairing the lift and the damaged parts. Devil's Head has ordered new anti-rollback devices for the lifts that Geise identified as needing to be replaced. A full re-inspection and load test will be performed on Lift #3 prior to re-opening to the public.

April Hammond

Occupational Safety Inspector

Wisconsin Department of Commerce

post #48 of 48
sounds like your sarcasm is not well based; ie:check the report,sounds like a crappy ski area poorly managed and maintained.
that's NOT an accident; it's an accident waiting to happen.  the skiers supporting that area have had their trust abused.

Quote:
Originally Posted by axebiker View Post




I have to agree with skylolow...very knee-jerk reaction here, very typical of any un-forseen event.  "Boycott", "coverup", "force them out of business"...what good will it do?  "Crappy area"?  No...just not as affluent as the destination resorts out west.  People out here in the sticks need a little bit of fun in the winter too - it's pretty long in these parts.  Any area/resort being closed for ANY reason is tragic in my opinion. 

It's an ACCIDENT.  They happen every day.  If you go through life thinking you can avoid every possible situation that can arise in life, I really feel sorry for you.  Hell...you say you live in Tahoe -- didn't some folks die in inbounds slides there last year?  Should we close down any area that has a propensity for avalanche conditions?  It's life, man...it happens every day. 

Don't go outside...it could kill you...

 
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