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A ski resort staff member plunged to their death after being ejected from a moving chairlift, the resort and police said.
The 29-year-old employee of the Park City Mountain resort in Utah met his end after falling at least 25 feet (7.6m) from the Short Cut chairlift after it was shaken by a tree that had fallen onto the lift cable.
The victim was thrown from the chairlift into a deep ravine at around 11:25am on Monday (January 2).
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“We are all deeply saddened by this tragic incident, and we will be providing support for our employees as we grieve this devastating loss," said Deirdra Walsh, the resort's vice president and chief operating officer.
Ten others who were on the chairlift were evacuated as the Park City ski patrol tried to treat the man's injuries, but sadly they were unable to save him.
The resort stopped short of revealing the man's identity.
Summit County Sheriff Captain Andrew Wright said the victim was a ski patroller.
He reportedly fell into terrain which was difficult for rescuers to access, with members of the ski patrol taking at least 20 minutes to locate the victim and dig him out of what was described as "chest-deep snow" by police deputies.
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"This wasn’t over a run," Wright explained.
The Short Cut chairlift remained shut as the investigation continued on Tuesday.
Write explained that the inquiry could take many factors into account, including Utah's record-breaking snowfall this year, tree health, and the tree's proximity to the lift.
Park City has received a whopping 56 inches (1.4 meters) of snowfall in just the past week following an icy winter in the US, which has seen snowstorms sweep the nation.
The resort has also been in a labour dispute with the lift maintenance crews it employs this year over wages, safe working conditions, and the efforts made to keep mechanics on side.
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