Chairlift Rolls Back at Sugarloaf Resort Injuring 7 People


This is the Second Time a Lift has Malfunctioned at the Resort in the Less than 5 Years

The King Pine Lift, a 27-year-old quad chair at Sugarloaf Mountain in Carrabassett Valley, Maine malfunctioned on Saturday, March 21, catapulting its chairs 450 feet backwards. As the chairs slid back, many got nervous and bailed, jumping off the lift as quickly as possible. Seven people were injured and four of those were taken to a nearby hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Sugarloaf’s patrol was able to evacuate the remaining 203 people off the lift, by using ropes and pulleys to lower them down.

Sugarloaf spokesman Ethan Austin indicated initial reports found a gear box malfunctioned and two braking systems didn’t deploy. A third backup brake also didn’t work, but a lift attendant was able to pull an emergency brake which stopped the runaway chair.

This is the second time an incident involving a malfunctioning chair has happened at Sugarloaf in the less than five years. In 2010, a 35-year old double chair inexplicably dropped five chairs down about 30 feet, injuring 8 people. That chair has since been replaced.

According to Ski Industries of America, there hasn’t been a chairlift death due a mechanical malfunction since 1973. With improved technology, routine maintenance and inspection, here’s to hoping that’s the last one in to happen in history.

If you were on a chair and it started to roll back, what would you do?

Photo: Greg Hoffmeister @gwhoffmesister