CARRABASSETT VALLEY — It sounded like a roller coaster going uphill, skiers Allison and Terry Rose of Massachusetts said Tuesday. The Spillway East Chairlift they were on made a “clunk, clunk” sound and there was a huge crash. Three of the chairs went crashing to the slopes at Sugarloaf.

The Roses were three chairs behind those that crashed into the snow.

“We heard people screaming,” Allison said. “We didn’t know what was happening. We momentarily thought, someone had jumped off the lift.”

It looked like 20 chairs on the ground, she said.

Allison’s father was ahead of them on the lift but he wasn’t seriously hurt and they found him in the basement of Richard Bell Memorial Chapel, which serves as the resort’s clinic in the event of any medical incident. She wasn’t sure if he was on one of the chairs that fell because it was hard to tell exactly where he had been in relation to the chairs that had fallen, she said.

“It was chaos. We were up there for about an hour,” she said. “They piled everyone on backboards.”

Allison described how they waited for the ski patrol to rescue them.

“We sat there for awhile,” she said. “It was cold. Then rescue came with something and elevated something that looked like a shovel, and lowered us down on a pulley system.”

As they were going up on the lift, Allison said it kept skipping a bit, but it definitely sounded and felt like a roller coaster going up hill. In retrospect, she said, it didn’t sound right.

Allison and Terry are spending the week at one of Sugarloaf’s condos on a ski vacation. But they said, “not anymore today. It’s too cold. We think we’ll avoid all the chairlifts today. We’ll wait a day, and go back out tomorrow.”

Cody Burdwood of Pittsburgh, Pa., was in line for the Spillway East Chairlift when the accident happened. “They just closed the lift down,” he said. They “wouldn’t tell us anything.”

Once Burdwood found out what happened, he called his entire family to make sure everyone was all right. Not one member of his family was on the lift, he said.

Fred Ehrlenback, who works at the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, was also at Sugarloaf skiing for the week. He said security contacted him and asked for his help with the rescue operation. He said at about 12:30 p.m. that all the people who needed ambulance service had already been transported to the hospital and that “things were pretty much under control.”

Carrabassett Valley Police Chief Scott Nichols said they received hundreds of calls following the accident, and there were so many calls that the Verizon tower ceased working for a short time due to overload. The rescue went very well, he said. “We couldn’t be more pleased.”


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