CARRABASSET VALLEY, ME (CBS) – A perfect winter’s day for skiing was shattered when the chair lift derailed sending dozens of skiers plummeting 30 feet to the trail below.
“I just realized, we’re dropping and then I slammed into the ground,” said Rebecca London, one of the skiers.
“I felt a big jerk and then I heard people screaming and then I saw the chairs just drop,” said skier Jack Carly. “For a little bit, I thought I was going to go down.”
Eight skiers were evacuated off Sugarloaf Mountain and taken to area hospitals.
At the time an estimated 200 skiers were on the spillway east lift making their way up to the 2800 foot peak.
The ski patrol helped get the rest of the skiers down from the broken ski lift.
“They can pull up a little seat. The person slides in the seat and then they’re repelled down,” said Operations Vice President Richard Wilkerson.
The 35-year-old lift relies on clusters of wheels to move the chairs along a 4,000 foot cable at a speed of 500 feet per minute.
Witnesses say one of those wheels snapped causing the cable holding up 10 to 12 chairs to drop.
“Sugarloaf Mountain and it’s employees are deeply concerned about the people that were involved in the accident,” said Ethan Austin, a spokesman for Sugarloaf Mountain.
The spillway lift was set to be the first priority in a ten year lift replacement plan at Maine’s premiere ski resort.
The ski lift did pass all necessary inspections. As for those hurt, officials say no one experienced life-threatening injuries.
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Reported by Todd Quinones, CBS 3