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Boy injured in fall from Windham ski lift

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Jada Kitson/Columbia-Greene Media Skiers on Windham Mountain last month.
February 16, 2018 04:26 pm

WINDHAM — A 5-year-old boy was injured at Windham Mountain after he fell 12 feet from a ski lift, Windham Mountain spokeswoman Betsy Pine said Friday.

The boy fell from the Whiteway Triple Chairlift, Pine said.

“He was in stable condition when he left the mountain,” Pine said.

A ski patrol responded to the incident within minutes, Pine said. The boy was conscious and alert when patrols responded.

Pine said she did not know where the boy is from and the extent of his injuries is not known.

It is unknown if the boy was a day visitor or staying for the weekend, Pine said.

The incident occurred when the lift approached the top of the mountain. As the lift reached the top, the retention bar lifted and the boy fell.

“The bar has to lift when it gets to the top,” Pine said. “That is characteristic of all ski lifts.”

The boy was taken by Town of Windham Ambulance to Albany Medical Center.

The lift was opened after the incident and safety crews will not be required to inspect the lift, Pine said.

“This is more user error,” Pine said. “Inspection crews come in if an employee is injured while working or something is wrong with the lift.”

Ski conditions on the mountain showed a primary snow condition of loose granular powder, according to windhammountain.com. Temperatures are forecast to reach a high of 43 degrees early in the day. The mountain has 41 trails open across 245 acres of terrain. The mountain has six lifts open; three lifts will stay open until 8 p.m.

Ski lifts are considered to be reliably safe modes of conveyance, according to a study posted by the National Ski Areas Association. Fatalities from lift malfunctions in the United States have occurred rarely over the past several decades., according to the study.

Chair lifts have been related to 13 deaths since 1973, when association researchers began accumulating data, according to the study.

“As of the 2016-17 ski season, which is the most current data available, the annual fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled on ski lifts was 0.146 — far more safe, in comparison, than annual fatality rates from riding an elevator or in automobiles,” according to the study.

The study also looked at falls from a chair lift, which showed similar rarity.

“Eighty-six percent of all falls are attributed to skier error and 4 percent of falls are due to medical issues of the rider,” according to the study. “Notably, only 2 percent of all falls from chair lifts were the result of mechanical or operator error.

“Ski areas adhere to rigorous and exacting inspections procedures for the lifts at their resorts,” according to the report, “and the fact that there has not been a fatality due to a lift-related malfunction in the U.S. in 23 years is attributed to meticulous inspection and maintenance programs.”

To reach reporter Kaitlin Lembo, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2513, email klembo@registerstar.com, or tweet to @kaitlinlembo.