Granby, CO – A preliminary report finds that a chairlift’s electrical problems resulted in a collision with a lift tower, propelling a mother and her two daughters from the lift at Ski Granby Ranch in Colorado on Dec. 29 and killing the adult.
Texas resident Kelly Huber, 40, and her two daughters fell an estimated 25 feet to the ground. The impact with the ground ruptured Huber’s aorta, killing her. Both daughters, ages 12 and 9, were injured by the fall and transported to area hospitals.
A preliminary report Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board released on Monday cites a problem within the chairlift’s electrical drive/control system with causing a “rare dynamic event” that resulted in the chair upon which the three were riding striking a lift tower, knocking the occupants off the chair. The report ruled out environmental factors, and found no fault with the passengers’ behavior. The chairlift, a detachable quad built by Leitner-Poma in 1999, was last load tested on Dec. 5 and inspected by the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board on Dec. 8.
The Quick Draw Express chairlift, which has been closed since the incident, will reopen today under specific conditions agreed to between the resort and the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board. It will operate on auxiliary diesel power instead of the primary electrical drive, which is to be disconnected, and rope speed will be gradually increased over the next five days to 800 feet per second, somewhat below the lift’s typical 900 fps speed. If lift operators detect any abnormality, it will again be closed immediately.
“Granby Ranch would again like to extend its condolences to the family of our guest who lost her life, and her family members who were injured in this tragic event. Granby Ranch places the highest value on the safety of our guests and the safe operation of all lifts and equipment at the resort,” resort officials indicated in a prepared statement released late Monday. “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. Granby Ranch strictly adheres to all policies, procedures and regulations for safe lift operation.”
Officials with the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety have declined any further comment pending release of the final investigative report.