Colorado Regulators Issue Report on Ski Chairlift Accident Leading to Woman’s Death

Colorado Regulators Issue Report

The much-anticipated state inspection report regarding a Ski Granby Ranch chairlift accident which sent 40-year Kelly Huber falling 25 feet to her death has been completed. A spokesman told the Denver Post that this was a very unlikely occurrence, and with the additional changes to be implemented, it will likely not occur again. The lift system known as the Quickdraw Express allows for operator adjustable speed changes, which led to Huber’s fall and death. The daughters were examined in the hospital and made eligible for release with minor injuries. The family was on vacation in Colorado from San Antonio, TX. This was the first such incident of its kind since 2002.

Energy Surge Caused Chair to Swing

The Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board explained that the probability of this accident was similar to being struck by lightning. The report cites the lift’s drive control system as the primary problem, combined with the speed changes made by an operator which sent additional energy into the line. The surge caused the chair carrying the mother and her two daughters to swing to a 40-degree angle.

Responsibilities of Tramway Board

The Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board generated the 150-page report in accordance with the Colorado Revised Statutes, which requires an investigation in tramway incidents that result in injuries or death. The Board is assigned to facilitate licensing, examination, and regulatory action in efforts to ensure safety. Area operators are designated by region who builds, maintains, and services the tramways which carry passengers at the many resorts in the state. The Board is ultimately responsible for levying penalties for violations which are summarized in the Passenger Tramway Safety Act. The findings of the report will be sent to the American National Standards Institute, which functions nationally in chairlift assessment and safety.

Reported Factors Involved in Accident

  • Drive control modification: Testing indicated two aspects of drive control led to the suddenly unstable condition of the rope
  • Changes in speed: Witnesses noted several changes in lift speed during the time of the accident
  • Complexity of the system: The system was installed in 1999 and was complex, requiring proprietary interfaces when integrated with newer technology
  • A control board was replaced: In 2016, a control board was replaced and exhibited unstable currents
  • Damage to motor: An interior lead in the motor was not secured

The investigators concluded that a “black box” should be implemented in these lifts to accurately record events including starting, stopping, and variations in speed.

Colorado law allows those who are injured as a result of negligent or careless actions to seek recovery for their losses and hardship. The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal has represented victims in civil actions for many years. Contact the office today at (303) 825-2223 for a complimentary consultation regarding your case.

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