The family of a snowboarder who suffered broken bones and frostbite after falling 30 feet off a ski lift to avoid freezing to death has sued a North Carolina ski resort.
The Charlotte Observer reports Robert and Wendy Elliott of Tennessee contend in the lawsuit that workers at Sugar Mountain Resort “were dismissive” when the youth’s mother reported him missing. The lawsuit said that instead of immediately looking for him, staff speculated the youth “probably wandered off the ski slope or trails” on Feb. 14, 2016.
Also, the Elliotts contend that resort staff was negligent in failing to check the lift for any riders before shutting it down.
The Elliotts are seeking at least $75,000 in damages.
According to the lawsuit, snow-making equipment and high winds drowned out the youth’s cries for help. After several hours, the youth became sleepy, and he was afraid he would fall asleep and ether freeze or fall out of the chair.
The lawsuit says he took off his snowboard, crawled over the edge of the chair, grasped a metal bar below the chair, hung from the bar and let go, falling to the frozen ground below. The fall knocked him unconscious, and when he came to, he crawled in pain about 200 yards out of thick woods via a service road to an adjoining ski run.
The youth, whose name and age aren’t listed in the lawsuit, crawled another 300 yards down the ski run to the lighted terrain park area, which had since reopened for night skiing. Two members of the public found him and called ski patrol.
Gunter Jochl, president of Sugar Mountain told The Associated Press that his staff was within minutes of locating the young man when he decided to jump. Jochl said the Elliotts’ lawsuit is not entirely factual, adding that he saw the young man a few months ago, and he was doing well.
“We at Sugar Mountain of course regret that the incident occurred,” Jochl said. “But we also want to state that the life of this young man was never in danger.”
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