Man killed in ski lift accident, authorities investigating

Local News

COLORADO (CNN) – Authorities in Colorado are investigating the death of a man who suffocated after falling through a ski lift.

This ski lift at Vail is running again after a deadly incident

46-year-old Jason Varnish from New Jersey died while attempting to board the lift.

According to reports, the seat on that chair was up, he slipped through, his coat got stuck around his head and he couldn’t breathe.

“And things happen very, very fast,” said Joseph Bloch, attorney.

It happened in Vail’s Blue Sky Basin, on chair 37, also known as the Skyline Lift.

Attorney Joseph Bloch has worked on cases involving skier accidents.

“They should’ve just hit the stop button. There’s an emergency stop and there’s a slow stop and if they’re doing their job they could hit the slow stop before the guests are loading,” Joseph Bloch, attorney.

He remembers one of his cases where a chair lift seat was left in the upright position. His client was injured but survived.

“The wind blew up the seat. My client and her husband were getting on the chair lift and the lift operator didn’t observe that the seat was flipped up and they got pushed into the rocks and she was injured. We had to go to trial in that case,” added Bloch.

Several chairlift accidents have made headlines.

A man nearly died at Arapahoe Basin in 2017 when his backpack got tangled in a lift.

The dramatic rescue was caught on video, the man dangling and unconscious when a fellow skier cut him free.

And a mother from Texas died in 2016 when she was thrown from a ski lift with her two daughters.

“Mechanical things do have problems. People have problems using mechanical things, so I think the important thing is that everyone needs to know how to use the lifts. The lifts, of course, are maintained carefully by all the resorts,” said Katherine Jeter, injured on the chairlift.

And Colorado’s Passenger Tramway Safety Board are investigating.

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