Three ski accidents over the past week highlight the dangers of posed by riding ski lifts. A New York woman died after falling approximately 25 feet from a ski lift at a resort in the Catskill Mountains over the weekend, police said. Olga Filkin fell while riding a chair that goes halfway up the Hunter Mountain about 2 p.m. on Saturday, the police reported. The cause of her death was determined to have been accidental and consistent with a fall.
The fall occurred approximately 100 feet uphill from where the woman got on the chairlift, which could hold three people. She was alone in the chair and the safety bar was engaged when the woman fell, police confirmed.
A statement from Hunter Mountain said ski patrol arrived at the scene “within moments, to no avail.” Filkin was married and had a daughter, according to Reuters.
Tyler Russell, 10, also fell from a lift on Saturday. He fell nearly 20 feet from a lift in Oregon while trying to adjust his snowboard. Tyler was enrolled with his brother and another youngster in Saturday’s “Gravity School” lesson on Mt. Bachelor.
Tyler and his brother were in one chair going up when the fall occurred, while the third boy was seated with the instructor in the chair behind them. Then he slipped out of a chairlift and dangled by one hand as he shouted for help, for several agonizing seconds. But there was no way for anyone to reach him before he fell about 20 feet to the snowy slopes below.
Local news reported that many on the lift and in the crowd who saw what was happening shouted for operators to stop the lift. Resort officials said it was stopped in seconds, but one onlooker, Kelly Strycharz of Bend, said it was more like 20 to 25 seconds.
Strycharz told local news station KTVZ, “The point is that he should not have traveled 150 feet and got to an elevation of about 25 feet before they stopped the lift … The kid was in trouble from the start of loading, and the operator loaded at least three or four chairs, with all of us screaming to stop the lift. I had time to run at least a football field-length up the hill to reach him, right before he fell. I cannot get that sound of him hitting the ground, or the image out of my mind.”
Then on Tuesday, a 5-year-old boy was airlifted to Albany Medical Center Hospital after he fell from a moving chairlift at Willard Mountain Ski Area, New York. Wyatt Skiff, of Greenwich, was riding the lift with a teenage skier when he slipped out at about 12:30 p.m. The teen grabbed the boy by the collar, but he could not hold on.
“He slipped underneath the safety bar on the chair, and he fell approximately 18 feet,” Wilson reportedly told authorities. “There were lift operators there almost immediately, and then patrol right after that.”
Skiff was conscious, crying, and moving his arms and legs when the ski patrol provided first aid, Wilson said. The injured boy was then placed on a backboard, and taken to the medical helicopter. The Greenwich boy was listed in “fair” condition Wednesday at Albany Medical Center.