Ski Granby Ranch chairlift accident caused by mechanical problem
January 10, 2017
The Quickdraw Express chairlift at Ski Granby Ranch is up and running.
Officials from the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board (CPTSB) gave the mountain resort the green light to resume operation of the lift after a meeting of the CPTSB Monday Jan. 9. Lee Rasizer, a spokesman for the CPTSB, issued a statement late Monday afternoon.
"The Board authorized the ski area to reopen the lift at its discretion and subject to the terms and conditions of the… Non-Disciplinary Interim Operation Agreement," the statement reads.
The Granby Police Department (GPD) issued a press release Monday evening that sheds some light on what led to the tragic fatality on the Quickdraw on Thursday, Dec. 29.
"It is known that a ski lift chair identified as #58, occupied by one female adult and two juvenile females struck ski lift support tower #5 and the occupants of chair #58 fell from that chair," states the release.
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According to the GPD investigators on the incident they do not believe environmental factors were the cause of the deadly accident.
"There was no weather event occurring and winds were minimal at the time of the event," the GPD release states.
Investigators do not believe the three Huber women were the cause of the accident themselves.
"The occupants of chair #58 did not appear to contribute to this event as no horseplay was observed nor was any type of intentional or accidental fall observed or reported upon."
To determine what caused the tragedy engineers from the CPTSB conducted, "a series of tests…involving the Quick Draw ski lift," states the release. Personnel from the GPD were on hand to witness and document the CPTSB engineer tests as they were conducted.
"Engineers were able to identify issues within the electrical drive/control system that contributed to a rare dynamic event that occurred on the lift at the time of the incident."
The statement from the GPD explains that the CPTSB has determined the lift's "diesel prime mover is currently capable of safely operating the lift and that the Quick Draw lift will resume operation on 1/10/2017." According to the GPD the chairlift accident, and Huber's resulting death was independently investigated by the Grand County Sheriff's Office, the Grand County Coroner and Ski Granby Ranch along with investigations from the GPD and the CPTSB.
INTERIM OPERATION AGREEMENT
Moving forward the Quickdraw Express will operate under a Non-Disciplinary Interim Operation Agreement with the CPTSB. The agreement is broken down into a series of numbered points that outlines details of the incident and the investigation along with steps Ski Granby Ranch was required to take before lift operations could resume.
The list of requirements is lengthy and includes: disconnecting the electrical drive from the lift so the diesel prime mover alone operates the lift, have lift mechanics visually inspect the entire lift, supplemental "Line Checks" from Ski Patrol, the appointment of Ski Granby Ranch personnel to perform routine visual ground check and inspection rides, and more.
Under the agreement the CPTSB agrees to, "not institute summary suspension proceedings while this Agreement is in effect so long as Operator remains in compliance". The agreement notes, "Nothing in this Agreement shall constitute disciplinary action", but goes on to state, "Nothing in this Agreement shall preclude the Board or the Supervisory Tramway Engineer from initiating disciplinary action".
With the Quickdraw running Tuesday, Jan 10 local boarders and skiers were chomping at the bit to get on the hill.
"I have been waiting for the east side to open since the accident happened," said 20-year-old Granby resident Tyler Thomas.
"I come here almost every day. This is pretty much my favorite mountain."
Other local riders weren't concerned about safety issues as they prepared to head to the Quickdraw. JD Miller of Granby was gathering his gear in the Ski Granby Ranch parking lot.
"I'm feeling good," said Miller, 19.
"I'm not worried about [the lift]. I personally think the whole reason it got shut down was the people on the lift's negligence. I think the lift should be fine."
Toby May, from Davis Okla was vacationing at the resort with his family. May and his young daughter Zoli just finished a run down the east mountain.
"The ride up was great," May said.
"I've got a young child and I felt perfectly safe and confident that everything was good."
May added that snow conditions on the east mountain were excellent Tuesday morning.
GRANBY RANCH COMMENTS
On Monday, Jan. 9 Melissa Cipriani, CEO of Granby Ranch, released a statement addressing the incident.
"The Quick Draw Express lift will resume operations on Tuesday January 10th," the statement began.
Ski Granby Ranch was able to open the lift because they signed an interim operation agreement with the CPTSB.
Cipriani extended condolences to the Huber family: "This is the first incident of its kind that the resort has experienced in 22 years of operation. The Quick Draw Express has been operating safely at Granby Ranch over the 16 seasons since its installation."
As part of her comments she stated the CPTSB and the lift's manufacturer concluded a detailed inspection of the Quickdraw on Jan. 4. The Board reviewed findings of the inspectors within five days. The lift has been reopened subject to terms of the Interim Operation Agreement.
Cipriani's statement explained that a "final report on the investigation" will be released by the CPTSB at a later unspecified date. Additionally the statement from Cipriani detailed the inspections conducted on the Quickdraw Express at the beginning of this ski season.
"The Quick Draw Express lift was load-tested on December the 5th. On December 8, 2016, the lift was inspected and licensed by the Tramway Board. Granby Ranch began operation of the lift on December 16 with the start of the ski season."
Cipriani's statement explained the operational protocols for the lift are determined by an outside engineering expert at the time the lift is certified, and that Ski Granby Ranch has followed all prescribed protocols in operating the lift.
"There is no indication at this stage of the preliminary investigation that the original lift installation contributed to the incident," Cipriani stated.