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Ever been on a lift that carries you right through the frigid blast of a snowmaking gun? It’s not fun, but it’s not nearly as unenjoyable as what happened at N.C.’s Beech Mountain Resort this past weekend.
On Friday, Jan. 7, a skier collided with a snowmaking hydrant while it was in operation, damaging the equipment and causing it to spray a forceful jet of frigid water 40 feet into the air—directly onto the people riding the double chairlift above. The air temperature was reported to be around 7 degrees at the time of the incident.
The two people on the chair that took the direct hit were blown off the lift and fell around 25 feet to the ground, while two more people in the lift behind them opted to jump rather than take the impact of the water. Injuries among the skiers include a broken arm, spinal compression, and bruising all over their bodies from the force of the water. None of the injuries are said to be life-threatening.
There are several videos circulating on social media of the incident, prompting questions of what took the resort so long to turn the water off and get people off the lift.
Rivkah Fancher said that her husband was at the resort at the time. “He came down the hill and saw them stop the lift over the woman who was getting pounded,” she wrote in the comments to the video above, which was posted to YouTube the day of the incident. “He skied down the hill within 30 seconds and screamed at the people operating the lift, ‘Move the lift 10 feet or someone is going to die!’ It was awful.”
Beech employees were eventually able to shut off the water and drain and snowmaking system.
“As soon as we became aware of the problem, our operations and safety team took action as quickly as possible to drain the system safely and assist the remaining skiers in disembarking at the top of the lift,” said Beech Mountain resort management in a statement.
Not quickly enough for the injured skiers, who aren’t likely to forget that lift ride anytime soon. As of today (Monday, Jan. 10), the affected lift is back in operation, and N.C.’s department of labor is investigating the incident.