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Ski Resort Reopens After Chairlift Accident Kills One

December 25, 1995

WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) _ Skiers returned to the Whistler Mountain resort Sunday, one day after four chairs dropped 30 feet from a high-speed chairlift, killing one person.

``The chair bounced a bit when it stopped and then started and stopped and started and stopped,″ skier Steve Hills said. Hills said he was stranded on the lift for about two hours after the accident before jumping 20 feet to the ground.

Other skiers were suspended in swaying chairs for up to four hours before they were rescued Saturday night from the 1 1/4-mile-long Quicksilver Express lift.

``Freaked-out mothers were screaming that their kids and husbands were still up on the lift,″ Hills said.

The accident happened about 3 p.m. Saturday while 6,000 skiers jammed the resort 50 miles north of Vancouver. Whistler draws about 800,000 skiers a year and is regularly ranked among the top five ski destinations in North America.

Police were investigating one report of skiers bouncing and swinging chairs before the accident, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Derel Little said.

Doug Forseth, president of Whistler Mountain Ski Corp., said the accident apparently resulted from a failure in the clamping device in the last of the four chairs that fell. The fourth chair slid down the cable, producing a chain-reaction crash with chairs in front of it, he said.

Other lifts were back in service Sunday. The resort withdrew radio advertising.

David Perry, Whistler’s marketing director, said the Quicksilver Express was made by Lift Engineering Ltd. of Carson City, Nev.

The RCMP said nine people were injured but the resort said 11 were injured. Police identified the dead skier as Trevor Michael John MacDonald, 25, of Vancouver.

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