CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine — A chair lift derailed in high winds at Maine’s tallest ski mountain Tuesday, sending skiers plummeting as far as 30 feet (9 metres) to the slope below and injuring several people.
The Sugarloaf resort in Carrabassett Valley, about 120 miles (193 kilometres) north of Portland, said in a news release that about six people were injured when five chairs fell an estimated 25 to 30 feet (8 to 9 metres). The resort’s ski patrol evacuated the lift.
None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening, the resort said. All the injured were treated and taken to hospitals. About 220 people were on the lift at the time.
Jay Marshall, who said he was hunkered down in a cold wind while on a lift next to the broken one, told The Associated Press that his lift was moving but that the broken one was not.
He said there was a “loud snapping noise,” then screams.
“The next thing I know, it was bouncing up and down like a yo-yo,” he said. Some skiers tumbled from their chairs.
Gideon Hacker, a skier from Princeton, N.J., said he saw at least one person taken off the mountain in a gurney pulled by a snowmobile. He said Sugarloaf workers used a pulley device to lower skiers to safety.
Jill Gray, a spokeswoman for Franklin Memorial Hospital about in Farmington, about 45 miles (72 kilometres) from the mountain, said that one person was taken there and on to Maine Medical Center in Portland.
Another person was being treated in Franklin’s emergency room, she said, and the hospital expected to receive five more patients. She did not give details on the injuries.
A spokeswoman for the Maine Emergency Management Agency said they were sending a representative to the scene but had no details.
At the time of the accident, high winds were buffeting Maine a day after a blizzard swept across the region.
The National Weather Service has no wind sensors near Sugarloaf. But a weather balloon launched Tuesday morning in Gray, in southern Maine, showed winds of 40 mph (64 km-h) at 1,000 feet (305 metres), a weather service meteorologist.
At 4,237 feet (1,291 metres), Sugarloaf is Maine’s second-highest mountain after Mount Katahdin.