Heavenly Mountain (file photo: Vail Resorts/Jack Affleck)

Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Over Heavenly Chairlift Death

South Lake Tahoe, CA – A settlement has reportedly been reached in a lawsuit over a 2009 chairlift entanglement at Heavenly Mountain Resort that resulted in a rider death.

The Sacramento Bee is reporting that the deal was reached in the lawsuit over the incident that killed 51-year-old Mark Dickson of Monrovia, Calif. Dickson and his wife, Rebecca, were on their honeymoon in Lake Tahoe and were riding the Big Easy chairlift at Heavenly when the haul rope used to carry harnesses for the resort’s nearby zip line broke free, becoming entangled in the chairlift. Mark Dickson was thrown from his lift chair to rocks 40 feet below.

Heavenly Mountain (file photo: Vail Resorts/Jack Affleck)
Heavenly Mountain (file photo: Vail Resorts/Jack Affleck)

The settlement was reached after El Dorado Superior Court Judge Steven C. Bailey this summer rejected Heavenly’s motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claim for punitive damages.

Terms of the settlement were withheld by a confidentiality agreement, although it was revealed that Heavenly owner Vail Resorts agreed to strengthened drug and alcohol testing of the staff that operates the Heavenly Flyer zip line, inspect equipment at regular intervals, and shut down the attraction in high winds.

Following the settlement, Heavenly vice president and COO Pete Sonntag released a statement that reads, “We are pleased that we were able to settle this litigation three months ago and hope that the resolution brought the family some closure. Guest safety remains a top priority for Heavenly. For the past three years, we have been working on a redesign of the zip line and the procedures for operating it to ensure the safest possible experience for our guests.”

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