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Skier breaks back in tumble from chairlift

December 13, 1997

VAIL, Colo. (AP) _ A Boulder man broke his back when he jumped or fell from an unmanned Vail ski lift hours after the slopes closed for the day. He was trying to crawl to safety in the dark when a rescuer on a snowmobile found him.

Brendon Dwyer, 21, apparently got on Vail Mountain’s High Noon lift Thursday afternoon around 3 p.m., after lift operators had left for the day. Dwyer was left in a chair on the mountain’s cold, isolated backside and at some point either jumped or fell to the ground.

Vail spokesman Paul Witt said it is not clear how ski patrol who sweep the area for lingering skiers and snowboarders after the lifts close missed Dwyer, who was reported missing by three friends.

Dwyer was found four hours after the lift closed. He apparently was trying to crawl to the lift base when rescuers spotted him.

Dwyer underwent surgery at Vail Valley Medical Center and was in stable condition with no paralysis, hospital spokeswoman Patti Caparella said.