A fatal chairlift accident at Ski Granby Ranch occurred after an equipment malfunction sent a chair carrying a Texas woman and her two daughters into a support pole, according to a report made public late Monday afternoon by the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board.
Kelly Huber, 40, of San Antonio, Texas, died after falling approximately 25 feet onto hard-packed snow in the Dec. 29 incident.
Her two daughters, ages 9 and 12, also were thrown out of the chair and were injured in the incident, which occurred on the Quick Draw Express ski lift that had been in operation for 17 years.
According to the state report, the investigation “identified issues within the chairlift’s electrical drive/control system that contributed to a rare dynamic event that occurred on the lift at the time of the incident.”
Investigators also concluded “that environmental factors, weather, and the occupants of Chair No. 58 did not contribute to the cause of the incident.”
The resort released the following statement:
The Quick Draw Express lift will resume operations on Tuesday, January 10th. As of tomorrow, 100% of the ski area’s terrain will be open to skiers and boarders. This follows the issuance of an operating license today by the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board. The lift has been closed and was under inspection following an incident on December 29th. Granby Ranch would again like to extend its condolences to the family of our guest who lost her life, and her family members who were injured in this tragic event. Granby Ranch places the highest value on the safety of our guests and the safe operation of all lifts and equipment at the resort. We would like to thank all of our guests, homeowners and team members for their supportive words and thoughts during this very difficult time.
Lee Rasizer, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, said in an e-mail the investigation into the incident was continuing and no one from the state would comment.
The board allowed the resort to reopen the lift but ordered that it not be operated using the electrical drive that was apparently in operation at the time of the accident. Instead, the board ordered Ski Granby Ranch to use a diesel engine system. The state also imposed new inspection requirements on the resort.
Huber suffered a traumatic rupture of her aorta, the main artery leading away from the heart, according to an autopsy. She also suffered other blunt force injuries.
Fatal lift accidents are rare – the last occurring in 2002.
Granby Ranch is small resort where a lot of families come to learn to ski.