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Chairlift accident preliminary findings

The BC Safety Authority released their preliminary findings into the incident which caused three chairs to strike the ground at Crystal Mountain Saturday morning, injuring four people.

Jason Gill, Provincial Safety Manager of Passenger Ropeways and Amusement Devices with the safety authority, has been on site since Saturday along with two BCSA safety officers.

"Preliminary findings indicate that a swinging chair struck a tower causing a full deropement," says Gill.

"A non-functioning tensioning system was also discovered and is being considered as a possible contributing factor to the incident. We have now been able to get the chairlift to an operational state and the next phase of the investigation will require dynamic tests in order to perform further analysis of the installation."

Gill says the chairlift, which first went into operation in 1967, was last inspected by the BCSA on Dec. 11 of last year.

"While older chairlifts are generally safe when maintained properly, we are also looking at what conditions may have changed since our last assessment," says Gill.

"An incident of this nature is extremely uncommon and mechanical or structural failures resulting in injuries to passengers are rare. Chairlifts in BC are very safe and most incidents involve rider error, usually during loading or unloading from the lift."

Gill says the number of reported injuries from passenger ropeways has steadily declined every year since 2009.

According to officials with Crystal Mountain, three of the four people injured have been released from Kelowna General Hospital.

Crystal Mountain's operating licence has been suspended pending the results of the investigation.

Mountain operators hope to be able to re-open next Thursday.

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