Skier Is Dead After Freak Chair Lift Accident

New Jersey man dies from asphyxiation in Vail because his coat strangled him
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2020 11:21 AM CST
Skier Strangled by Coat in Chair Lift Mishap
This Nov. 15, 2016 file photo shows a chair lift in Vail, Colo.   (Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily via AP)

A skier has died in Colorado after getting caught on a chair lift with his coat wrapped around his neck. Jason Varnish, 46, of New Jersey was skiing in Vail Mountain's Blue Sky Basin when he boarded the Skyline Express on Thursday. He asphyxiated when he fell through the opening of the chair lift seat—apparently left in the upright position—and was caught with his coat around his head and neck, reports KMGH. Vail Mountain is investigating the incident, ruled an accidental death by Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis, but it says the chair lift is operating normally.

"[We] express our sincere condolences and extend our support to the guest's family and friends," says COO Beth Howard. Vail Mountain Ski Patrol responded and performed CPR on Varnish until he was taken to Vail Health Hospital and pronounced dead, per Vail Daily, which reports a man was left hanging upside down from the same chair lift in 2009. He survived. A lawyer who worked on the case of a woman injured at Vail when a when a chair lift seat was left up in 2002 wonders why chair lift operators didn't intervene. "They should've just hit the stop button," he tells KMGH. (More Colorado stories.)

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