6 Aug 2021

Woman suffers nine cracked ribs after chairlift fall

2:52 pm on 6 August 2021

An Auckland woman is facing a months-long recovery after dropping six metres from a chairlift at Cardrona Alpine Resort on Tuesday.

No caption

Cardrona ski field. Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

Janette Adams said she slipped while getting on a chairlift at the ski field.

She managed to hold onto an arm rest and her niece grabbed a hold of her, but she was left dangling as the chairlift went up the slopes.

Adams said staff were not paying attention and did not stop the lift.

"I'm quite short of stature," Adams told RNZ from her hospital bed.

"I was getting on the chair with my niece. I was sliding back into the chair and my edge caught on the snow and I was pulled forward again and we didn't have the [protective] T-bar over yet... I ended up just hanging on with one arm.

"Ten pylons on I was still trying to hang on and then my niece was trying to hang on to me and I didn't want her to go over too, so I thought it's better if I just go and release and jumped because they weren't stopping the lift. I didn't know what was happening and it was the shortest distance [down] that I could see coming up."

She fell six metres to the ground below and suffered nine cracked ribs, a punctured lung, a liver bleed and a broken pelvis and arm.

"I tried to land on one side rather than my back or my head," she said.

"So I have possibly done less damage but I certainly didn't realise I'd do as much damage as I did."

The skier of 35 years described the ordeal as "absolutely terrifying" and, while how she slipped was a "freak thing", she was still unsure as to why the chairlift was not stopped.

"Towards the end people were shouting out 'stop the chairlift, stop the chairlift' but they just weren't stopping the chairlift. I can't imagine why because they often stop the chairlift straight away when they can see someone's caught an edge or had a bit of difficulty. But it just went on and on."

Cardrona and Treble Cone Experiences general manager Laura Hedley said an internal review of the incident was underway.

"On Tuesday, August 3rd, one of our guests came into difficulty after loading Captain's Express chairlift, and fell from the chair between towers 6 and 7. She received medical attention from our ski patrol team, and was transferred to Dunedin by St John's for further assessment and treatment.

"We notified WorkSafe immediately, and conducted interviews of witnesses as part of an internal review that is ongoing. As per our policies, staff involved were drug and alcohol tested directly following the incident and returned clear results. Sound testing was also conducted to verify witness statements. We will work closely with WorkSafe and are supporting our staff as the investigation continues.

"We have been in contact with the Adams family, and we will continue to support them throughout this process. This has been, and will continue to be, a difficult time for all involved, and our thoughts are with Mrs Adams and her family."

WorkSafe confirmed it was now investigating the incident and as a result was unable to comment further.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs