West Kelowna  

Ski lift crash heads to court

More than four years since a terrifying chairlift crash at a West Kelowna ski hill, one of the people injured is taking the resort to court.

On March 1, 2014, a cable on Crystal Mountain's Blue Chairlift came loose, sending two chairs into a tower before falling to the ground, injuring four people. The lift had been installed in 1967.

West Kelowna resident Lawrence Waldenberger was one of three people who filed suit against Crystal Mountain in 2016. In his suit, he claims 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.

“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,” Waldenberger stated in his claim.

An independent report found the "deropement" of the chairlift was caused by several contributing factors, including improper set up of the lift's counterweight and monitoring circuits, and poor understanding of its tensioning system.

The 10-day hearing is expected to begin in BC Supreme Court in Kelowna on Oct. 29, if a settlement isn't reached before then.

“Obviously, we've been trying to get this case settled, but that has not happened unfortunately,” Robert Kennedy, counsel for Crystal Mountain, said Tuesday.

Kennedy said they'd be applying to have a jury trial, but the prosecution said they're opposed to a jury due to the lack of notice.

The trial won't be to determine if Crystal Mountain is liable for the chairlift crash, but only to determine the amount of damages Waldenberger is owed.

Waldenberger's lawyer, Terry McCaffery, wouldn't say how much they are seeking. 

Crystal Mountain has remained closed since the crash in 2014, despite claiming in 2016 they'd be back up and running for the winter of 2017.

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