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Inquiry Focusing On Grips Chair Mechanism Investigated After Accident At Whistler

A mechanism for attaching chairs to a fast-moving cable is the focus of an investigation into a ski lift accident in which one man died and nine people were injured.

“The grips have been taken off the (four) chairs and we’re going to look at those a little closer once we get them into a dry shop,” Whistler Mountain ski area president Doug Forseth said Monday.

Investigators have determined the gripping mechanism of one chair allowed it to slip down the cable Saturday, causing a chain-reaction rear-end crash with three other chairs occupied by holiday skiers.

All four chairs fell from the cable more than 30 feet into brush, small trees and snow-covered rocks below a lift tower.

Police identified the dead skier as Trevor Michael John MacDonald, 25, of Vancouver. Three others were seriously hurt and flown by helicopter to Vancouver.

The rest were treated and released from a clinic at this resort about 55 miles north of Vancouver, a mecca which attracts 800,000 skiers a year from around the world.

The accident left 200 other skiers - including several children - marooned on the lift for up to four hours in darkness and sub-zero temperatures.

The Quicksilver Express lift was closed indefinitely, but the mountain remained open.

The lift system, commonly known as a high-speed quad, seats four skiers on each chair. The grip mechanism fastens the chair support to a cable moving 13 feet a second, releasing it to load and unload at stations.



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