Mother of child allegedly left on Granby Ranch lift rebuts denials
February 15, 2017
The mother of a child who was allegedly stranded on one of Ski Granby Ranch's chairlifts after the end of operations in 2014 is speaking out and rebutting statements from the ski resort that the incident never occurred.
On Jan. 20, a complaint was filed against Ski Granby Ranch with the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board alleging that resort personnel left a child on a chairlift after night operations ceased in January of 2014. The Sky-Hi News reported on that complaint on Feb. 9 and included statements from Granby Ranch CEO Melissa Cipriani, who characterized the claims as "categorically false."
After the story was published, the mother of the child involved in the alleged incident contacted the Sky-Hi News to rebut Granby Ranch's denial. At her request, the Sky-Hi News is not publishing the name of the woman, but we have confirmed the woman's identity with the individual who filed the complaint with the Tramway Board, Granby Ranch homeowner Natasha O'Flaherty.
The mother, who lives in Golden, said she, her son and her nephew were all at Granby Ranch night skiing in 2014.
"My son and nephew were both 12," the mother said. "I was waiting in the restaurant when my nephew came in. I asked where my son was. My nephew said he wanted to go for one last run."
The woman alleged her son was told he was just in time for a final run down the mountain by one of the lift operators.
"We were sitting around waiting," the woman said. "We were starting to get concerned. We checked outside to make sure he wasn't out by the fire." The mother said after she reentered the restaurant area she checked her cell phone and found she had several missed calls from her son. She called her son back and discovered he was still sitting on one of the lift chairs. "My nephew ran out and said, 'My cousin is on the lift'. They started it up and he came down."
The very next day she called Granby Ranch to ask for a manager to report the incident. "I talked to a woman, I told her the story and quite honestly I was infuriated," the mother said. "She was so rude, so dismissive, acting like it could not have happened." The mother claims officials at Granby Ranch told her they can run reports detailing when specific lifts are shut down and for how long. Granby Ranch called her back several days later to say the lift was never shut down, and therefore the incident did not occur, she said. "She basically called me a liar," said the mother.
The mother said she did not file a complaint about the incident with the Tramway Safety Board at the time because she was not aware it existed. "Why didn't I do anything then? Well, I didn't know where to go," she said. "I talked to management and they blew me off."
GRANBY RANCH RESPONSE
In a statement issued Tuesday morning, Granby Ranch stood by its previous denials of the alleged incident.
"Granby Ranch has informed the Colorado Passenger Tramways Safety Board that a young guest was never stranded on a stopped ski lift the night of January 5, 2013," the statement reads. "The lift may have stopped for a few minutes and the juvenile who reported to his mother by cell phone that he had been left on the lift was in fact just sitting during a stop for a guest who had difficulty loading or unloading."
There are some contradictions between Granby Ranch's version of events and those provided by the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board by the mother of the child involved in the alleged incident. According to the mother, and verified by Tramway Board spokesman Lee Rasizer, the complaint filed against Granby Ranch states the incident occurred in 2014, while the resort referenced an incident in 2013 in its statements.
The statement goes on to assert that if any guest were ever left on a lift at Granby Ranch after operations have ceased, "that guest would have been located quickly as part of the ski area's Last Chair Procedures."
"Granby Ranch takes very seriously the procedures for lift operations and shutdown," continues the statement from Granby Ranch. "Documentation provided to the Tramway Board shows that all lift procedures for both the Quick Draw Express and Milestone lifts were followed that evening." According to the statement, Granby Ranch's documentation shows the guest was on the Milestone lift at the time of the alleged incident.
Granby Ranch points out the entire lift path of the Milestone can be viewed from both the top and bottom of the lift. According to the resort, the top lift operator on the Milestone actually walks down the lift line at the end of the night shift to ensure all chairs are empty. "Additionally, ski patrol works directly under the lift while taking down ropes and barriers at approximately 8 p.m.," the resort said.
Granby Ranch officials stated all safety procedures are followed, "to the letter every day." They said the day after the alleged incident occurred the mother of the child was offered and accepted lift tickets for herself and her child.
O'Flaherty explained she filed the complaint because of her concern for the safety of guests at the Ranch. "The fact that a boy was left up on the Quick Draw lift after the lights and lift were shut down for the night, would appear to be contrary to the PR statement issued after the Huber death that states, 'Granby Ranch strictly adheres to all policies, procedures and regulations for safe lift operation.'"
When asked why she waited three years to file her complaint with the Tramway Board, O'Flaherty stated, "I believe it is relevant. Granby Ranch has asserted that they comply with all Tramway Board rules and regulations. So how is it that a young boy was left up on the Quick Draw?"
O'Flaherty stated she only recently learned from the mother of the boy that the occurrence was not reported to the Tramways Safety Board at the time of the incident.
"I hope meaningful safety changes are made so that an incident like this does not happen again," O'Flaherty stated.