December 09, 2019
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Sugarloaf: Bad safety switch caused King Pine lift accident

Darrell Davis | BDN
Darrell Davis | BDN
Sugarloaf says a broken drive shaft caused a chairlift to suddenly roll backward, causing an accident Saturday that injured seven people.

CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine — Sugarloaf says a broken drive shaft on its King Pine chairlift caused it to roll backward and cause a Saturday accident that injured seven skiers.

After the drive shaft broke, according to a Sugarloaf news release, the primary brakes — including the brake that prevented the lift from rolling in reverse — were left inoperable.

Sugarloaf said a “manufacturer design issue” in a lift component contributed to the rollback by compromising the lift’s ability to prevent it.

The component, a “drop dog” in ski parlance, is meant to automatically deploy to prevent lifts rolling back. Sugarloaf says an “inappropriate” safety switch in the drop dog allowed the rollback to occur.

Other Sugarloaf lifts were stopped until inspections of their equipment were completed and the components changed, according to the resort.

Saturday’s rollback was eventually stopped by an emergency brake, called a bullwheel brake. That brake worked, according to Sugarloaf, but is designed to bring the lift to a gentle stop.

Weighted full of more than 200 weekend skiers, Sugarloaf says the King Pine lift rolled back 460 feet before coming to a stop.

Three skiers were hospitalized. Two have been released, but one’s condition is unknown, according to the Associated Press.

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