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West Kelowna  

Three sue Crystal Mountain

Three lawsuits have recently been filed against Crystal Mountain Resort, two years after a terrifying chairlift crash in 2014 that closed the mountain indefinitely.

On March 1, 2014, a cable from the chairlift reportedly came loose, sending two chairs careening into a tower before crashing to the ground. Four people were injured in the accident.

Three of those injured worked at the mountain, including two members of the ski patrol and one ski instructor. The fourth person injured was a 45-year-old who was taking lessons.

At the time of the incident, Castanet was informed one ski patroller suffered some broken ribs, a broken clavicle and damage to the vertebrae in her back. 

Her husband, the other ski patrol member, sustained bruising on his lower limbs, but no broken bones.

The 16-year-old ski instructor broke his arm in the fall. 

Another 15 people were on the lift at the time of the incident, however, no other significant injuries were reported.

On Jan. 6, 2016, a ski-patroller at the time of the incident, Kevin Gourlay of Kelowna, filed a civil claim against Crystal Mountain claiming he was a passenger in a chair that crashed to the ground during the chairlift crash on March 1, 2014.

Gourlay's civil claim alleges he suffered personal injuries as a result, including injuries to his feet, ankles, legs and ongoing chronic pain.

“All of which injuries have caused and continue to cause the plaintiff pain, suffering, discomfort, loss of enjoyment of life, permanent physical disability, past wage loss and future earnings,” reads the court document.

On Feb. 3, 2016, his wife and fellow ski-patroller at the time, Maegan Harvey of Kelowna, filed a civil claim against Crystal Mountain claiming she was a passenger in a chair that crashed to the ground during the chairlift crash on March 1, 2014.

Like Gourlay's, Harvey's civil claim alleges she suffered significant personal injuries as a result of the crash including injuries to her chest wall, back and legs, as well fractured ribs and scapula among other listed injuries.

“All of which injuries have caused and continue to cause the plaintiff pain, suffering, discomfort, loss of enjoyment of life, permanent physical disability, past wage loss and future earnings,” repeats Harvey's civil claim document.

Finally on Feb. 24, 2016, West Kelowna resident and ski hill guest at the time, Lawrence Waldenberger, filed a civil claim against Crystal Mountain claiming he was a passenger in a chair that crashed to the ground during the chairlift crash on March 1, 2014.

Similar in wording to Gourlay's and Harvey's civil, Waldenberger's civil claim alleges he suffered significant personal injuries as a result of the crash including traumatic brain injury, loss of consciousness, concussion, post-traumatic-stress disorder, multiple broken ribs and irritability.

“As a result of the Incident, the plaintiff has had to rely on family members and others for providing services to and for his benefit beyond what they would have normally provided but for the incident.”

All three plaintiffs are suing for unspecified compensation including general damages, special damages, loss of income (past and prospective) and future care costs, among others.

All three claims contain similar wording and allege Crystal Mountain was negligent in ensuring their safety.

“The incident was caused by or contributed to by the negligence and breach of duty of care of the Defendants and their employees, servants and/or agents,” reads all three claims.

The claims go on to allege Crystal Mountain failed to ensure the Blue Chairlift was well maintained and safe for resort guests.

“Failing to have any or any reasonable system in place to properly inspect the Blue Chairlift, the counterweight and the area beneath the counterweight to effect necessary and replacements of fault equipment,” reads part of the civil claims legal basis.

As it stands, Crystal Mountain has filed responses to both the Gourlay and Harvey civil claims – denying both claims.

“In response to the whole of the Notice of Civil Claim, Crystal Mountain denies that the Incident was caused or contributed to in any manner by the negligence of Crystal Mountain and further denies that it was in breach of any statutory or other duty of care owed to the Plaintiff,” reads both filed responses.

“Crystal Mountain states that if the Plaintiff sustained any injury, loss, damage or expense as a result of the Incident, or at all, which is not admitted but specifically denied, then such injury, loss, damage or expense was not caused or contributed to in any manner by the negligence or breach of any duty or case on the part of Crystal Mountain or its employees.”

The mountain has not yet filed a response to the Waldenberger claim.

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