January 10, 2017 / 4:13 AM / 3 years ago

Malfunctioning Colorado ski lift caused woman's fatal fall: report

DENVER (Reuters) - A fall from a chair lift at a Colorado ski area that killed a Texas woman and injured her two daughters last month was the result of equipment malfunction, a preliminary report by state investigators showed on Monday.

The Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board said problems with the lift caused it to strike a tower at the Ski Granby Ranch on its way up the mountainside.

The collision ejected 40-year-old Kelly Huber and her two young daughters, and the trio plunged 25 feet onto hard-packed snow, the report said.

“Engineers involved in the Board investigation of the cause of the incident identified issues within the chairlift’s electrical drive/control system,” the report said.

“Environmental factors, weather, and the occupants… did not contribute to the cause of the incident.”

Huber, who was on vacation with her family from San Antonio, died from blunt-force trauma and a ruptured aorta, the Grand County Coroner’s Office ruled.

Her two daughters, ages 12 and 9, were injured, but their conditions have not been publicly released.

In a statement, the ski area expressed condolences to the victims’ family over “the tragic accident,” noting it was the first such incident in its 22 years of operation.

“Granby Ranch strictly adheres to all policies, procedures and regulations for safe lift operation,” the statement said, adding that the lift was load-tested and certified by the tramway board prior to the opening of the ski season.

The lift at the ski area, located 90 miles west of Denver, has been closed to skiers and snowboarders since the Dec. 29 incident while the investigation was underway.

It will resume operating on Tuesday, under an agreement with the tramway board which required that the electrical system to the lift be disconnected, and a diesel-powered drive be used instead.

Operators must also run the lift slowly at first to ensure it is functioning properly, and inspect it five times daily, the tramway board said.

A full report on the incident, including whether any disciplinary action will be taken, will come at a later date, the board said.

Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Michael Perry

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