The Texas mother who fell to her death from a ski lift while her two young daughters were seriously injured did not have the safety bar down, a witness has claimed.
Kelly Huber, of San Antonio, was riding the chairlift at the Ski Granby Ranch, in Colorado, with her girls – aged nine and 12 – on Thursday when all three fell.
The 40-year-old plummeted more than 20ft to her death, while her daughters were seriously injured.
Her nine-year-old daughter was airlifted to Children’s Hospital Colorado and her condition is not known.
Huber’s other daughter, 12, was treated and released at Middle Park Medical Center in Granby, where her mother was pronounced dead, the Denver Post reported.
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Kelly Huber (left and right), of San Antonio, was riding the chairlift at the Ski Granby Ranch, in Colorado, with her girls – aged nine and 12 – on Thursday when all three fell
Allen McGirl, who was three chairs back when the trip fell, wrote on Facebook: ‘I can’t get out of my head watching that moment’
The chair remained attached to the cable, according to witnesses.
On Saturday, the coroner determined that Huber died from blunt force trauma to her torso and a traumatic rupture of the aorta.
The witness, Allen McGirl from Greeley, who was three chairs back from the family, wrote on Facebook: ‘I am so sad to have witnessed the 3 people fall off the chair lift at Granby Ranch this morning.
‘If only the mother would have lowered the safety bar, this would not have happened.
‘Now the mother is dead and the two little girls will never be the same. My heart goes out to their family.’
A witness says the accident wouldn’t have happened if the safety bar had gone up, but it’s not yet clear exactly what happened when the three fell from Ski Granby Ranch in Grand County, Colorado. Pictured: one of the ranch’s ski lifts
He continued: ‘I was three chairs back and saw everything and was warning my group I was with.
‘Terrifying. Warning about the swaying side to side. No other chairs were swinging like that.
‘The bar hit the sign on the pole and they dropped out. I can’t get out of my head watching that moment and cpr for 5 to 10 min.’
‘My heart sunk and it just took me very hard,’ McGirl, who is a father of young children as well, told Denver 7 TV station.
He said it was obvious that Huber was not breathing when she hit the ground.
The fatal fall is the first in the state in over a decade.
Slope officials immediately shut down the lift to make sure there were no problems with it.
Authorities have not yet weighed in on whether this was the reason the family tumbled out.
‘Granby Ranch continues to work cooperatively with authorities to determine the cause of the incident. Our thoughts and prayers also go out to everyone involved in this tragic event,’ the ranch wrote on Facebook Saturday.
Huber had been vacationing in Colorado with her daughters and other family members when the tragic accident occurred, authorities say.
Emergency services were called to the slopes at about 10am on Thursday after horrified witnesses saw the Texas family tumble from the Quick Draw Express Lift.
It has not yet been announced how high up the mountain the victims were when they fell from the lift, but Schelly Olson, spokeswoman for the incident command, said they were the only ones on that chair.
But she said many saw the horrific accident: ‘People on the chairs in front. People on the chairs in back. People on the hill.’
Huber had been vacationing in Colorado with her daughters and other family members when the tragic accident occurred
The 40-year-old (pictured with her fiance Michael Hunsucker) plummeted more than 20ft to her death, while her daughters were seriously injured
Huber (pictured) died in Middle Park Medical Center, where one of her daughters was reportedly treated and released
While the rest of the resort is now operational, the high speed Quickdraw Lift will remain closed until the inspection by the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board and lift manufacturer is complete.
One visitor to the resort had raised concerns about the lift on Facebook just one day before the accident.
‘What’s going on with the Quickdraw lift?’ Denise Ablin Slucki had asked. ‘Seems like it is having frequent mechanical issues.’
One of Huber’s daughters was moved from the resort (pictured) to a nearby hospital and is in stable condition; the other was airlifted to Colorado
Huber was a long-time employee of the health insurance provider Aetna, according to a statement from the company.
‘She was a loved and respected Aetna employee,’ company spokeswoman Anjanette Coplin said in a statement to the Denver Post. ‘Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragedy.’
Chairlift deaths in the US are very rare – only 12 people have died due to malfunctions between 1973 and October this year, three in falls.
The last chairlift fall death in Colorado was believed to have occurred in 2002, the Denver Post said.
America’s most deadly ski-lift tragedy happened in Colorado’s Vail in 1976 when a seven-year-old gondola, carrying six skiers, plummeted 125ft killing four people.
In 1985, a bullwheel at Keystone Resort failed, throwing 60 people off the Teller Lift. Two later died from their injuries.
The 400-acre Ski Granby Ranch, about 20 miles west of Winter Park, is a family-oriented resort renowned for its beginner ski and snowboarding slopes, and has just four chairlifts.
‘These things don’t happen very often,’ said Chris Linsmayer, a spokesman for Colorado Ski Country USA, the trade group representing most of the state’s ski resorts, who added that people were five times more likley to die in an elevator.