Federal authorities launched an investigation Friday into the death of a Loveland Ski Area worker who got caught up in a “magic carpet” lift he was working on, 9Wants to Know has learned.
On Saturday, Chief Deputy Coroner Carrie Blackwell identified the worker as 40-year-old Adam Lee.
His preliminary cause of death is crushing chest injuries due to blunt force trauma from a lift equipment accident, according to Blackwell.
Two investigators from the Denver office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration spent part of the day Friday at the ski area in Clear Creek County, said Herb Gibson, the federal agency's area director.
“We were there first thing this morning,” Gibson told 9NEWS. “We're trying to determine the cause and exactly what happened in this incident and, obviously, prevent it from happening again.”
A “magic carpet” lift is, essentially, a conveyor belt installed at snow-level. Skiers stand on it on their skis or snowboards and are transported uphill.
They are often used on beginner hills.
Gibson said the lift involved in Thursday's deadly accident was “very small” and not in use while the worker was performing maintenance on it.
“The person got caught up in some of the equipment,” Gibson said. “This is a tragic accident during the holidays.”
The Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board regulates ski lifts and is responsible for investigating any death or injury that could be the result of an equipment malfunction. An engineer conducted an inspection that “revealed proper functioning of the lift,” said Lee Rasizer, spokesman for the tramway safety board.
As a result, the tramway safety board won't be involved in the investigation.
OSHA is part of the U.S. Department of Labor and is charged with investigating workplace accidents.
Gibson said it is likely to be at least a few months before OSHA investigators reach a conclusion about what happened.
He said the operators of the ski area have been cooperating with investigators.
John Sellers, the marketing director at Loveland Ski Area, described the death as a “fatal accident while working” in a written statement but did not shed further light on the incident.
“Ski Patrol was in the area and responded immediately,” Sellers said in the statement. “The circumstances of the incident are being investigated.”
Loveland Ski Area opened for the season on Oct. 20.
In March, the ski area's administrators came under criticism from Clear Creek County Coroner Chris Hegmann after he learned that employees moved the body of a dead skier before investigators arrived at the scene. That man died after crashing into a tree.
Contact 9NEWS reporter Kevin Vaughan with tips about this or any story: firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-871-1862.