Four people have been taken to hospital after several chairlifts crashed to the ground on Crystal Mountain near Kelowna Saturday, the ski resort has confirmed.
BC Ambulance said Crystal Mountain staff called 911 at around 11 a.m. reporting that four people had been injured after the chairlifts plummeted to the slopes.
Two people were taken to hospital in critical condition, one by air ambulance, and two others suffered minor injuries, according to BC Ambulance.
Crystal Mountain general manager Mike Morin said the incident was caused when an empty chairlift swung into a tower and fell approximately seven metres to the ground, causing the cable to dislodge from the system. Two other chairs, carrying two people each, then crashed to the ground.
According to Morin, the victims include a ski instructor, two volunteer ski patrol personnel, and a teenager.
Charlotte Hardy said her 16-year-old brother was one of the injured.
“All I know is that he broke his shoulder and he had a neck brace on because they weren’t sure if he had a neck injury,” she said.
PHOTO: Red tape surrounds chairlifts after an incident caused them to fall to the ground.
After the incident, skiers and snowboarders were left stranded on the chairlift until they could be hoisted down one by one using ropes and a T-bar.
“We were near the top of the chairflift and suddently it jolted and stopped,” one skier said.
Morin said it took about an hour to rescue all of the stranded skiers and snowboarders.
“From the time of the incident to the time we got the last passenger off was about an hour,” Morin said, adding that many staff members were traumatized by the incident because three of the victims were their coworkers.
Two B.C. Safety Authority officers are now investigating the cause of the incident.
Morin said the chairlift has been been running since 1967 and they’ve never had an issue.
All chairlifts were shut down on the mountain Saturday, it is not known how long they will be out of commission.