HomeNewsWATCH: Chairlift Suddenly Changes Direction, Causes Pandemonium

WATCH: Chairlift Suddenly Changes Direction, Causes Pandemonium

by Matthew Memrick
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

One child went to the hospital after a South Korean ski chairlift changed direction, and there’s lots of video showing the pandemonium.  

The mechanical ski resort machine malfunctioned around 3 p.m. local time, sending skiers backward at a high rate of speed. Video shows riders having to jump to safety before each chair loudly slams into one another at the terminal.

Some who jumped fell on top of others as there was very little time to clear each chairlift’s backward path.

Amazingly, emergency personnel only took the 7-year-old child to the hospital for only mild bruises.

USA Today via Korea JoongAng Daily reported the Friday incident at Bears Town Ski Resort in Pocheon, Gyeonggi. The news website has a few other videos from different angles.

Chairlift Out Of Control For Minutes

As each chair hurdled backward down an incline, onlookers yelled for passengers to jump. Some detached from their skis. Once on the ground, some had to drop their heads to avoid getting hit by the next chair

Instagram user bonocoo captured the mishap.

When ski lift operators managed to wrangle control back, more than 100 riders were stuck. The website Snowbrains reported that some stuck riders had to wait two hours before reaching the ground. 

One news report said the ski area was cleared by 5:13 p.m.

Local police and the Korean Transportation Safety Authority are checking all the other lifts at the resort. Officials did not cite a cause for the machine’s malfunction.

“It is still unclear what caused the accident, and the resort will cooperate with the police,” a Bears Town Ski Resort official said.

South Korean Resort Working To Make Things Right

In an official statement, the resort apologized “to everyone who suffered damages from the lift accident and their families, and we apologize to everyone who was shocked with the news.”

The resort vowed to work with authorities to make safety checks and “do our best to make the resort a safe place to ski.”

Korea JoongAng Daily reported that the resort wants skiers to call a hotline or email about any injuries or damages. Seasonal pass holders can get refunds. 

Tourism website I Visit Korea listed the ski resort as No. 2 on the 14 Best Ski Resorts in South Korea for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics.

The Bears Town resort did not host any events for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

American Ski Lifts Safe?

Of course they are, and there are probably safe ones in South Korea.

The National Ski Area Association’s 2018 report stated that there has only been one death from a mechanical malfunction. That happened during the 2016-2017 ski season. Likewise, there have only been three deaths from chairlift falls unrelated to mechanical issues.

In the report, the trade group said a passenger is five times more likely to suffer a fatality riding an elevator than a ski lift and more than eight times more likely to suffer a fatality riding in a car than on a ski lift.