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Another child falls from Rocky Mountain ski lift

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
By PAUL FOY, Associated Press Writer – Thu Jan 14, 10:36 am ET SALT LAKE CITY – A young skier who fell from a Utah lift was riding a chair that had a safety bar, proving the device isn't fail-safe and may even have its drawbacks, ski resort executives said.

Tuesday's fall in Park City marked at least the third time a skier fell off a chair at a Rocky Mountain ski area in less than a month, surprising regulators and resorts, who say it rarely happens.

Deer Valley Resort said the boy fell 20 to 30 feet off Sterling Express chair, a modern detachable lift that's considered the standard of safety. Detachable lifts slow down when they pick up and drop off skiers. The boy was with a ski instructor and another young child near the top of the lift, getting ready to push off the chair when the he slipped, Deer Valley spokeswoman Erin Grady said.

He wasn't seriously injured, Park City police Capt. Phil Kirk said.

The experience of resorts suggests safety bars don't make a difference, said Onno Wieringa, general manager of Alta Ski Area, scene of a December accident, Alta's lifts have no safety bars, and Utah doesn't require it.

"They're almost a false sense of security," Wieringa said Wednesday. "Just as many people fall out with as without them. Kids can slide under them. At the end of the day, I think, maybe it's better that they're a little scared." That can persuade skiers to sit back in a chair, the safest position, he said.

At Alta ski area, a 4-year-old girl who fell Dec. 18 from a chair lift was found face-down in the snow and not breathing when ski patrol arrived. She made a full recovery days later at a hospital. "She was squirming around, looking at something, and spun out of the chair," Wieringa said. "She was sitting right there with her mother."

Parents are the key to their children's safety, said Peter Dahlberg, an engineer and board member of the Utah Passenger Ropeway Safety Committee. The Utah Department of Transportation regulates the operation and safety of ski lifts, but officials say they never felt the need to mandate safety bars.

"I taught my kids to ski from a young age. As a parent, I always held them in a chair. Since my kids are out of their teens now, I think I succeeded," Dahlberg said.

On Dec. 30, another boy fell off a chair lift at Snow King Resort in Jackson, Wyo. Snow King's operations director, Greg Smith, referred questions about the accident to Tom Fortune, the company's recreation director, who didn't return phone messages Wednesday from The Associated Press.

Grady said Deer Valley was still trying to determine the sequence of events that led to the boy's fall Tuesday "It's not a common occurrence," she said.The resort said he was taken to Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City, where a spokeswoman, Bonnie Midget, said she wasn't immediately able to identify the boy or find out his condition.

He was the third child since the holidays to show up at the hospital after falling off a Utah chair lift, Midget said.

post #2 of 20
That's sad news to hear!  I usually don't like having the bar down when I ride, but if my pack is full and I'm in the middle of the chair, I get this queasy feeling til the bar comes down.
post #3 of 20
You shouldn't be wearing your pack when getting on or off a chair. It's a safety hazard.
post #4 of 20
I saw that actually, didn't look like he was moving so it's good to hear he wasn't seriously hurt.
post #5 of 20
the bar sure won't help if it's not down. If the chair is still 20 to 30 feet off the ground why would you raise the bar on a detachable, where you have plenty of time to raise it at the ramp. there's always so much bullshit around these accidents, mostly coming from the resorts. perhaps parents of freaking 4 year olds have to decide if a kid that age really needs to be riding chairs made for adults. inept behavior every time it happens. It's such the norm now, oh my 4 year old skied baldy or what the f ever. get a clue parents. 4 years old. get it. barely, if at all, out of diapers. pisses me off big time.

lemmi: that from Park City Police. If it's your kid how serious is it? and where the f were you when your kid was slipping off the chair, parents? busy wealthy people with their kids  in someone elses hands, same, same same story.
post #6 of 20
Airbags, Seatbelts,Helmets, Parachutes,are all just to make us feel better and allow us to be sold anouther safety item so corporate america can make more money. Its all about the sudden stop, thats what these protect us from!
post #7 of 20

Height requirements are imposed on carnival companies by ride manufacturers and insurance companies. Adhering to these requirements is important to ensure the safety of all riders. Ride personnel are trained to evaluate a rider’s height next to a measuring post at the ride to determine whether the rider meets the requirements. Skerbeck Carnival wants customers to understand that the height requirements are necessary to prevent injuries and keep children safe.

post #8 of 20
The Rockies are not located in Utah.  Anyhow, I always had my young kids wearing a harness when they were timy.  It was easier to get them on a fast chairlift (45 lb. curl) and I could hold onto them when the lifts had no safety bars. I noticed most ski schoolds in Utah use a harness for young kids.  Many ski schools in California do not.  I think they are good for getting kids on lifts.   IMO safety bars do help some kids, because they can push against them helping the kids stay on the chair. 
post #9 of 20
Glad to hear the kid is going to be OK.  I used to watch my boys like a hawk when they were young.  Even with my 8 year old, if there is no safety bar, my poles are sitting across his lap and through the opening on the side of the chair and I have a very firm grip on them.

On a geologic note, the Wasatch are part of the Rockies.  They are a subgroup on the western edge of the range. 

Originally Posted by quant2325 View Post

The Rockies are not located in Utah. 
post #10 of 20
Originally Posted by Illibuck View Post

Glad to hear the kid is going to be OK.  I used to watch my boys like a hawk when they were young.  Even with my 8 year old, if there is no safety bar, my poles are sitting across his lap and through the opening on the side of the chair and I have a very firm grip on them.

On a geologic note, the Wasatch are part of the Rockies.  They are a subgroup on the western edge of the range. 



some parents might take note that you have to be skiing WITH your 4 yo, and riding the lift with her, in order to watch her like a hawk and provide additional securtiy for her that may or may not be taken care of by the resort, the instructor, another 4yo, the babysitter, a friends kid, your beginner wife or husband, and so on. She'll be older very soon, then you can cut her loose.
post #11 of 20
According to the story above, the 4 year old was with her mother at Alta.  I haven't seen anything that says how old the child was at Deer Valley.  We had our kids in ski school at resorts at age 5.  Every parent has to make that decision for themselves, but we took them out when they were younger than 5 and had them on the magic carpets etc, to introduce them to the snow, skis etc.  When it came time for them to learn to ski, like lots of other parents I'm sure, we learned that getting instruction from Mom and Dad was not nearly as productive as getting it from an unrelated adult.  Better listening, less complaining, you know the drill.  We trusted the ski school instructors with our kids and never had any problem. 

This sounds like kind of a freak accident and I can understand how it happened.  When we had our boys with us on the lift when they were younger the safety bar came down and I made sure that everyone was scooted back in the chair.  As we came to the top of the lift the bar usually came up one to two poles/towers before the offload and everyone kind of scooted up in the chair to make the offload off the chair easier.  I always watched to make sure they didn't scoot too far forward and off the chair  When they were little, if they stayed in the back of the chair until actually offloading you were yanking them off the chair and there was typically a wipe out on the offload.  It sounds like this child scooted too far forward and fell off.
post #12 of 20
with a modern detachable, that's not necesssary if the parent or responsible adult is experienced.. also, know your child: athletic or not so much? because it's not a tragedy this time, I'd rather dig out the problems to save other parents the sadness and children the pain and scary memories than worry about some offended adullt.
post #13 of 20
These kids were probably pushed off by snowboarders.
post #14 of 20
#1 .... it ain't a "safety bar" and as an instructor you are not even allowed to call it that.

You are allowed to call it ..... "The Bar" .... and you, as an employee must use it and encourage people to use it.

The num-nuts at areas that don't have bars usually spout stats.  It has been my personal observation that .... well every accident I've seen that involved a kid happened while loading and occasionally while unloading.  So there num-nut, or course the bar does not prevent something if it's in the up position ... how else would you get on and off?  This by the way can skew the statistics.  In a high wind gimmie a bar.
post #15 of 20
if you're an instructor you should have the skills to raise the bar when the chair is going slow over the ramp. who's the num nut, I'm losing the line of thought, Yuki?
post #16 of 20
Just get the kid ready ... poles and such squared away and ready and at the last second .. bar up and slide off and go allllllll the way over there and out of traffic.  Be a few steps ahead of the game and there are no problems.

Bad is when the wind is strong (gusty to boot), from behind, the chairs have a firm hard glaze of ice and you have to make that last second count.  They say that pilots earn their pay for about ten minutes once each month.  Ski instructing, well, that's pretty close too.
post #17 of 20
 The kid at Deer Valley was seriously hurt. Several broken bones and an internal injury. He's in our school, I think he's five or six. He'll be a long time recovering. I heard a couple versions, something about when the safety bar went up, it may have caught his ski, or he took it as the get off signal and they weren't there yet. Whatever it was, once he's out of the hospital and getting better, we'll figure out what happened and make sure it doesn't happen again. Having an instructor on the same chair can't be good. 
post #18 of 20
That's really sad that he was so seriously injured. I can't imagine how frightened he must have been.

Yuki''s spot on about icy seat cushions. When they are like that I don't like sitting in the middle with nothing to hold on to (side of chair) partly because I'm kid-size. Since kids don't really care how many laps they ski, we should check everything out for them before we even get on the chair. Skiing gets kind of rushed sometimes. Not safe or necessary for the kids, IMO. The complacency around lifts should be shattered by this cluster of accidents.
post #19 of 20
Little Deer Valley dude is out of the hospital, broken leg, arms broken; all of them... internal injury or two, but he'll heal up. He's a neighborhood kid, so it does seem closer to home this time; somehow one thinks of these things happening only to out of towners, from like, Provo..! This is a freak accident, but every few years they do happen.  Everybody's going to hold their kids a lot closer, for sure...

post #20 of 20
Crabbie, in a world where people payed some degree of attention you would be right.  Deer Vally has Stein and a wonderful lodge and some bragging rights.. a roast of elk to die for with ...

Many of these people muddle day to day in a reality that is so divorced from our reality.  They come to ski on vacation and they come to ski to escape.  They won't learn a thing or ... am I being too hard on them?  I'm working on a new concept  where you have your eyes wide open ..... the bad news is that you still hadn't extracted your head from being so far up your proverbial adz that the sun still doesn't shine.  The process is not beyond them, they would have to acknowledge their participation in the phenomena at hand and that won't happen.
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