CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine (CBS) — Several people were injured in a ski lift derailment at Maine’s Sugarloaf ski area Tuesday morning.
Around 10:30 a.m., the Spillway East lift at the ski resort derailed from the lift’s eighth tower.
As a result of the derailment, five chairs fell an estimated 25-30 feet to the ground below.
At the time of the derailment, there were an estimated 220 people on the lift, according to officials with Sugarloaf.
Six people were initially taken to the hospital to be treated for what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries. A seventh person, who had been checked out by ski patrol staff, was taken a short time later after complaining of pain.
The Sugarloaf Ski Patrol responded to the incident and evacuated the remaining guests from the lift.
WBZ News Radio’s Anthony Silva talked with Eric Paquette of Marblehead who fell from the lift.
Jack Michaud was on Spillway West with his wife, while his mother was on Spillway East. He recalled feeling a jerk on the cable, but didn’t know what had happened until his chair came upon the scene.
He said the cable and chairs were on the ground, and his mother was thrown from her chair when it hit the ground.
He made his way down the mountain to his mother and said she was shaken up, but not seriously injured. He added that she said nothing about significant wind, and he doesn’t remember any strong gusts, either.
What he does remember, though, is on his previous run seeing a mechanic checking out the tower where the chairs fell. His mother told him that the mechanic had climbed the tower and was banging on it when the chairs fell.
An inspector from the State of Maine Board of Elevator and Tramway Safety is at the mountain to investigate the crash.
Sugarloaf staff say the chairlift receives weekly, monthly and yearly maintenance and testing; and it is inspected each year by the State of Maine Board of Elevator and Tramway Safety.
“We’re deeply concerned about those who were injured,” said Sugarloaf spokesman Ethan Austin, “and we’re committed to understanding the cause of this incident. We want our guests to have fun, but our first priority is their safety.”
All of the mountain’s lifts were closed down for a few hours Tuesday while staff worked to evacuate Spillway East. The resort says guests should expect normal operations for the rest of the week, but Spillway East will not reopen.
Jack Michaud says even if it does reopen, he won’t be riding on it again. “I won’t ride that chair ever again,” he said.
WBZ-TV’s Ken MacLeod talked with a woman who was on the lift.