Boy left stranded 30 feet in air on NC ski lift in freezing temperatures, jumped to survive

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SUGAR MOUNTAIN, N.C. — A child was left stranded 30 feet in the air on a ski lift for two hours at a North Carolina ski resort in February 2016, according to WSOC.

That 15-page lawsuit says that the child was so cold and desperate for help that he jumped.

The owner of the resort said he didn’t know about the lawsuit until Tuesday afternoon. He said the most important thing on the slopes is safety.

On Feb. 14, 2016, the child had gone up one of the lifts at Sugar Mountain Ski resort toward the end of the day but at the last moment decided not to get off. As the lift took him back down the mountainside, it stopped.

The court documents said the temperature had fallen into the teens and the boy was nearly 30 feet up in the air.

The lawsuit says, “In an effort to survive, the teen took off his snowboard, crawled over the edge of the chair, grasped a bar below the chair, hung on and then let go, falling over 30 feet to the frozen ground below.”

The fall fractured the teen’s right heel and right wrist and knocked him unconscious.

When he came to, the lawsuit said he crawled 200 yards out of the heavily wooded area by a service road to the Gunther’s Way ski run. He then crawled an additional 300 yards down that ski run to the Terrain Park area, which had reopened for night skiing.

Two people found him and called the ski patrol.

“Yes, I’m aware of the incident,” owner Gunther Jorchl told WSOC.

Jorchl said he saw the teenager a few months ago and said he is doing well.

“We regret that the incident occurred and we have taken all measures to make sure something like this never happens again,” Jorchl said.

The owner said they not only have ski patrols but daily safety meetings.

The lawsuit is asking for compensatory damages in exceeding $75,000.

Gunter’s Way is listed as one of Sugar Mountain’s more difficult slopes. Some of the resort’s lifts do have lights so they can operate at night. This lift, however, does not have lights, so that child would likely have been in pitch black.