A ski lift at Timberline Resort in Tucker County failed on Saturday, causing more than 100 skiers to be stranded, and at least 25 skiers falling to the ground.
Timberline Resort officials said around 9 a.m. Saturday morning, the ski lift “Thunderstruck” malfunctioned with about 200 people on it. Only nine of them sustained injuries, and because of a quick response by ski patrollers and area first responders, officials said everyone was taken to safety within two hours of the malfunction.
Of the nine people injured, only two were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. They have since been released from the hospital. First responders treated and released the other seven at the scene.
Photo courtesy: Chase Fowler
“We train on this every year, do some planning and we split up," said Dwight Pettry, assistant ski patrol director. "We’ve got tires marked where we do all our evacs. We’re pretty proud of the fact that we can get everyone off in less than two hours. That’s a pretty good time.”
Timberline Resort spokeswoman Kendra Curran said each of Timberline’s three ski lifts undergoes a daily test before the resort opens. Saturday morning, Thunderstruck passed that test.
“We have experienced mechanics, over 20 years of experience, so they do a check every morning," said Curran. "Then we have the ski patrol, and they actually ride the lift up and do a visual check as well.”
But just hours after that daily test, the lift failed, resulting in the worst ski lift failure in the resort’s history. It isn’t clear what caused the lift to malfunction, but Curran said engineers were expected to determine that Sunday morning.
It isn’t clear what caused the lift to malfunction, but Curran said engineers will try to determine that Sunday morning.
“All we can do is shut everything down, and leave it as is for them to come in and determine what actually went wrong,” Curran said.
Curran said the lift was built about 30 years ago, but by ski standards, she doesn’t consider it old.
“There are lifts that have been around at other ski resorts, not ours, since the 1960s," Curran said. "As long as they’re maintained properly, they’re good to go.”
Resort officials said the lift will remained closed indefinitely. They kept some slopes open later than usual Saturday to accommodate skiers.
Saturday morning, 12 News was headed to the scene while emergency personnel and the resort's ski patrol worked to bring the remaining skiers down the mountain and evaluate them for any injuries.
Canaan Valley Fire Chief Sanford Green told 12 News that the skiers who fell off the lift fell at the lowest level of the ski lift.
See Timberline's full statement in the tweet below.
(This story was contributed to by Jeff Schrock and Nick Farrell)