Sugarloaf Mountain, Maine — At least 200 people were trapped and eight people were injured Tuesday after a ski lift broke down at Sugarloaf Ski Resort in Maine, causing several skiers to fall to the ground, a resort manager said.
Sugarloaf spokesman Ethan Austin said the derailment on one tower of the Spillway East lift happened around 10:30 a.m. ET, when the cable skipped over the edge of the pulley. Five of the lift’s chairs hit the ground, falling 25 to 30 feet, he said.
None of the injuries are considered life-threatening, Austin said, adding that most of the victims are reporting “lower back problems.”
A spokeswoman for Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington said two of the injured were being taken there by ambulance. The hospital is 45 minutes from the ski area. One of the injured was later taken by helicopter from Farmington to Maine Medical Center in Portland for treatment.
Rebecca London, one of the skiers who tumbled to the snow, told The Associated Press that her face hit a retaining bar but her goggles spared her from serious injury. She credited new snow underneath the lift with a soft landing; the resort said it got 20 to 22 inches in Monday’s storm.
“Thankfully, they didn’t groom it last night, so they left it like it was,” she said. “So the snow was all soft.”
Conditions at the time of the accident were blustery. The National Weather Service reported winds in the area gusting from 29 to 43 mph. The temperature was 12 degrees at the time, resulting in a windchill of 9 below zero. It was not immediately known if the weather was a factor in the accident.
The resort said the cause of the incident was under investigation. Sugarloaf said there were 220 people on the lift at the time. At 4,237 feet, Sugarloaf is Maine’s second-highest mountain.
The two-passenger lift was manufactured and installed in 1975 and modified in 1983. It carries 162 chairs, each weighing 140 pounds. The lift is powered by a 250-horsepower motor. It is inspected daily and receives weekly, monthly, and yearly maintenance and testing, as well as an annual inspection by the Maine Board of Elevator and Tramway Safety, the resort said.