Chairlift collapses at Maine ski resort, sending six to hospital

What started as a great day on the slopes at Sugarloaf ski resort ended in disaster yesterday when a chairlift collapsed, sending seven guests to the hospital and leaving more than 200 others stranded above the snow for hours.

Located in Maine, Sugarloaf is considered one of the top ski resorts in the northeast United States. Yesterday, the slopes were filled with skiers and snowboarders taking advantage of the holiday season for some quality time on the snow. But reportedly many of them were riding the chairlift when the accident occurred. Passengers on the lift reported feeling a few sudden lurches before it came to a complete stop, amidst the screams of tumbling skiers.

The Spillway East lift ran into problems when one of its cables derailed sending five of the machines chairs falling 25-30 feet to the ground below, taking their passengers with them. Those passengers were treated on scene then taken to a nearby hospital in Portalnd. Their injuries were described as non-life threatening.

Meanwhile, the other 200 guests on the lift had to be slowly brought down off the lift by the resort staff. That process required them to slide more than 40 feet to the ground in a special swing that is not unlike a climbing harness. That process went without incident, although it did take some time to get all of the stranded passengers down.

The resort hopes to have the lift back in operation soon, and thanks to the recent east coast snow storm, there is more than 20 inches of fresh powder on the mountain. There are still several days of holiday break left for many of us, and now is as good a time as ever to hit the slopes, despite this accident.

Is this pretty much every skiers nightmare? Who hasn’t been on the lift and wondered how often an accident like this happens? Thankfully no one was seriously injured in this collapse, but I know what I’ll be thinking about the next time I get on a lift.

[Photo credit: WCSH-TV Maine]