Jump to content

Squaw Tram Accident

6 replies to this topic

#1 KZ

    Multipurpose Machine

  • Industry II
  • 2,087 Posts:
  • Interests:Howdy folks, Im Zack and I live in California.

Posted 03 February 2004 - 10:28 PM

Ok, i know ive posted this before, but here it is again. One of the more "hushed up" lift accidents. I would say this was worse then quicksilver.

3 dead in
Squaw fall

Special to The Examiner

SQUAW VALLEY — Three skiers were killed and several others suffered severe injuries at the Squaw Valley winter resort yesterday when a tram slipped off its overhead cable and dropped several feet, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.

A spokesman for the sheriff’s department said three persons were confirmed dead late last night after rescue teams reached the disabled tram and began evacuating the 40 trapped skiers one by one with rope slings.

Sixty persons were safely evacuated from a second tram which was halted when the accident occurred in cold, snowy weather.

A resort spokesman said the tram slipped off its cable and came down pretty hard but was held in the air by other cables about 35 feet above the snow at the 7,600 foot level of the slope.

Ski patrol sheriff’s search and rescue teams and other support personnel were rushed to the scene.

The tram that slipped its cable was coming down the mountain and did not hit the ground when it fell, Boardman said. Apparently, only one end of the car jumpted the cable, leaving it dangling from the other end.

Search and rescue teams, ski patrols and fire department crews were sent on skis and snowmobiles to help evacuate the passengers. They were hampered by the falling snow and darkness.

A temporary hospital was set up near Squaw Valley by the Truckee-Tahoe Medical Group, but five hours after the 3:30 p.m. accident the hospital had not yet received its first evacuee.

Rescue workers were trying to cut a road to the site as all available amulances stood by.

“It was very windy, very cold” at the time, an eyewitness, Kevin Hill of Orinda, told the Examiner.

Bill Boardman, the resort’s assistant general manager, said, “It was pretty snowy, with gusty winds up to 40 miles and hour” when the accident occurred. He did not believe, however, that the winds on the mountain were a factor in the accident.

The tram cars run on cables between the Squaw Valley base at 6,200 feet and teh top terminal at 8,200 feet.

Every available member of the ski patrol at the famed Sierra resort 200 miles east of San Francisco was on the scene, Boardman said.

He said the car carrying 40 persons was about 2,000 feet from the top when it dropped. It was left dangling about 30 feet off the ground.

“The telephone line went on the blink when this happened, so unfortunately there was no direct communication,” he added.

The terrain hampered early rescue attempts, Boardman said. It was a “difficult place to get to to cut a road in.”

Personnel and ambulances from teh ski corporation, Placer County sheriff’s office and the Squaw Valley, Tahoe City, King’s Beach and Truckee fire departments were sent to the scene.

The lower tram car was halted about 1,000 feet from the bottom of the slope. There were no reported injuries in that car, but the occupants were checked by doctors and the resort’s Olympic Training Center and Olympic House after they were brought down one at a time.

“People on the uphill side appear to be in fine shape,” Boardman said.

Temperatures were reported to be about 35 degrees Fahrenheit when the accident occurred.

By nighfall, rescuers had brought in generators and snow cats to assist in evacuation operations. Temperatures dropped to about 25 last night, according to one observer.

Boardman said there were 3,000 to 4,000 skiers at the resort yesterday.

“Except for the cable car, we’ll be back in operation on Sunday,” he added.


San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle
Sunday, April 16, 1978
Page 4, Section A, Column 2
(sidebar to page 1 story)

The history of problems
that plague Squaw Valley

Squaw Valley and its aristocratic Boston-born owner Alex Cushing have been plagued by safety problems for more than a decade.

Depite the ski resort’s prestige as the largest Tahoe ski area and the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, a state industrial safety board in 1974 ordered fines of $6,700 for safety violations.

Most of the fines were for failing to have operative emergency brakes on the ski lifts.

The resort has had at least seven serious chair lift accidents since the 1960 Olympics, resulting in scores of injuries.

In 1965 Cushing was charged by the state with not complying with safety regulations after a life gave way and several skiers were injured when the chairs began to run backward.

In 1971 a state safety inspector shut down the Gold Coast Chair Lift when he found it was operating without a bull wheel brake. Cushing paid a small fine on that.

And in 1973 an accident on the Exhibition Chair Lift resulted in misdemeanor charges against Squaw Valley.

The biggest fuss over Squaw Valley safety, however, occurred after a 1974 accident on the Exhibition lift in which seven skiers were injured.

The bull wheel emergency brake was found by state inspectors to be badly worn and oil soaked.

Safety violations were also alleged on the KT 22 Gold Coast and Emigrant lifts.


San Francisco Chronicle
Monday, April 17, 1978
Page 1, Section A, Column 6

Squaw Valley Tram
Describe the Terror

‘We Were

By Stephen Hall and Barbara Richnak
Chronicle Correspondents

Squaw Valley
Placer county

As the winds howled ominously late Saturday afternoon, Modesto doctor Patrick Mulrooney thought it was too risky to ski down Emigrant Peak with his wife and two small children. Instead they took the tram car, which went less than half of its 2,000-foot descent when a dislodged cable sliced through the car.

Mulrooney’s right arm was trapped in the wreckage. He may never be able to use it again.

David Penning, another passenger, plunged 100 feet through the air to a safe but painful landing in soft snow.

And Chris Loungarikis, a Tahoe City housewife who had once told friends that a crippled tram car “should be the next terror movie,” found herself in a principal role.

They were among the 36 survivors of a wind-blown surrealistic hell Saturday when a freak accident sent a cable slicing through the car like a can opener, killing four, pinning about a dozen to the floor and leaving the shocked survivors shivering against snow and 40 mile-per-hour winds whipping through the jagged cabin.

The accident occurred at about 3:45 p.m., when the red car was 800 feet down the slope from the 8200-foot summit at High Camp.

The green car, ascending with 64 passengers on the tramway, was just 800 feet upslope from the main lodge.

The red car was making its final descent of the day when passengers felt a sudden gust of wind, a plummenting sensation and then the sound of shearing metal.

“We were like dominoes, thrown to one side and then the other,” said Penning’s wife Patty. “Then we unfolded, one at a time.”

“I was blown out through the side, which was gone,” said her husband, David, a pilot from Menlo Park, who celebrated his 47th birthday Saturday by dropping in a spinning free-fall from the crumped car and landing in soft snow just beyond the bare rocks of the cliff below.

“The wind was blowing,” said Penning, who suffered only a broken rib in his 100-foot fall. “It blew me down the mountain a ways. It was a steep area on one side, but the wind blew me to soft snow.”

“The roof caved in and then the doors collapsed in,” said Loungarikis, 28, who has worked off and on at Squaw Valley for four years.

“One man went out and I held onto someone for dear life,” she said. “I would have been the next one out.”

Loungarikis said she stopped in the tram control room at High Camp before descending and heard employees “talk about a faulty cable.”

She added that just before one of the three cables apparently popped out of its slot, the control room called driver Danny Katabowski by radio to inquire, “What kind of stuff (weather) you’re hitting?”

“Obviously they were getting concerned,” said Loungarikis, who estimated the gusting winds at 60 to 80 miles per hour. “I don’t personally feel that the calbe car should have been running in the wind.”

The 64 occupants of the undamaged green car, stranded by the accident 500 feet above the ground, remained generally calm and drew lots for removal while waiting for rescuers.

However, in the ten-foot by 30-foot red tram car, swaing in blizzard conditions and approaching darkness, the atmosphere at first was “total chaos,” according to Dr. Mulrooney.

“There was screaming, crying and wailing,” said Mulrooney, 35, whose right arm was trapped between a woman’s ski boot and sheared metal.

“The fellow in front of me was killed and the fellow behind me was killed,” said Mulrooney in a telephone interview from his hospital bed in Washoe Medical Center in Reno. “It was very frightening.

“We were skiing with the kids when it became cold and the weather was getting bad. We thought it would be safer to down in the tram than take the risk of breaking a leg in the low visibility,” said Mulrooney grimly.

“I’ve ridden the thing maybe a hundred times, and no problem,” he added. “But this time the wind gusted and knocked it around like a toy.”

The survivors huddled together in the cabin, sang songs and prayed until rescuers arrived at the scene about 45 minutes after the accident.

At the base of teh mountain Ski Patrol boss Jim Mott heard the news of the mishap over his walki-talkie radio. He leaped aboard a snowcat — a treaded snow tractor — and radioed for reinforcements and rescue equipment as he made his way to the accident site.

“The accident couldn’t have happened in a worse place for a rescue,” Mott said. The tram was three-quarters of the way to the top and was dangling about 80 feet above the snow.

Ski Patrolman Chris Phillips already had reached the tram with a dare-devil performance in which he shinnied and walked along one of the cables. He was able to rig two makeshift boatswain’s chairs with T-bars and ropes.

When Mott arrived, he and maintenance supervisor John Krauss were hoisted up in to the tram, where they began the seven-hour job of lowering the 34 survivors, the three dead, and the one who died on the way to the hospital.

“When I first got into the tram I couldn’t believe the severity of the injuries,” Mott said yesterday. “That kind of floored me for a moment, but then we went to work.”

“There were 11 or 12 people pinned under the cable, three were dead, but the rest were conscious, most were in shock,” he recalled. “There was a lot of crying, but they got it together when they saw help was coming.”

Dr. Charles Kellermyer, one of the doctors at the emergency clinic here, joined the rescue team in the dangling tram, and for seven hours he helped pull victims out from under the cable and lower them.

The children were lowered first, followed by those suffering injuries and shock, then women, and then the men.

The dead were the last to be taken from the tram.

As night fell, the wind-whipped blizzard increased in ferocity, making the rescue operation even more treacherous.

The doctor, who enjoys skiing in storms, said it was the worst weather he could remember at Squaw Valley.

Both Mott and the doctor commented on the courage and cooperation of the people in the tram. Both also praised the 150 volunteers and 22 ski patrolmen involved in the operation.

Once on the ground, the ordeal was not over for the victims. They had to walk or be carried about three-fourths of a mile, up 400 vertical feet along a dark and icy mountainside to High Camp.

They were then ferried by snow cat to the Gold Coast area and shuttled up in four-man gondolas to the main lodge 2000 feet below.

Both the main lounge area and the Locker Room bar were converted into emergency rooms where doctors treated the injured before transfer to Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee, which admitted two victims, and Washoe Medical Center, which admitted five.

“The people were beautiful,” said San Francisco chauffeur Larry Crawford, 42, who was recovering from exposure and possible frost-bitten feet at Washoe Center.

“One woman took my shoes off and warmed my feet against her body. Someone gave me a stocking cap and and someone gave me a glove,” said Crawford, a non-skier who was wearing only street shoes and a suit when climbed into the car with his clients.

“Everybody was helping everybody else,” said Crawford, who almost didn’t make the trip, his first ever on a tram.

“I got to looking at the ticket,” he recalled. “I started getting nervous because it said ‘ride at your own risk’ or something like that.

“I almost didn’t go up, but figured they had done it a lot and thought, ‘Why not?’”


San Francisco Chronicle
Monday, April 17, 1978
Page 1, Section A, Column 2

Expert Tells What Happened

Squaw Valley
Placer county

An array of investigators, plagued by more than a foot of new snow, were trying yesterday to determine how the biggest tramcar ski lift in the world suddenly became a death trap that killed four persons and injured 31 Saturday.

Officials from the state Industrial Safety Division, who regularly inspect the cable car system, and a host of insurance adjustors here refused to speculate on the exact cause of the tragedy.

However, Hans Burkhart, a Squaw Valley-based, Swiss-born engineer who helped install the $2.5 million tram system in 1969, visited the accident scene yesterday and gave this expert observation on what probably happened:

The 130-foot long passenger cabin hanges on a giant armature from the system’s three cables. At the top of the armature are two sets of wheels which ride on parallel cables that serve as tracks. A third cable, known as the hauling rope, is attached to the armature, between the tracks, and is used to move the tram.

The two track cables are attached to terminals on the valley floor and at Emigrant Peak, and between those two points the tracks are stretched over the tops of two support towers.

Burkhart and other authorities said it appeared that one of the track cables on Tower Two, nearest Emigrant Peak, slipped out of its support slot. The tower is 115-feet high.

The two-inch thick cable, without the support of the tower, dropped downward and literally sliced through the roof of the passenger cabin. The cable is extremely heavy — each foot weighs 12 pounds.

The mystery of the accident concerns how the cable came out of the support shoe on top of the tower.

Burkhard said last night he can only guess that strong wind hitting the tram car broadside caused the vehicle to sway abruptly, and perhaps one set of wheels may have pried the cable out of its slot as the car approached the tower.

When the cable cut through the car, pinning several persons to the cabin floor, it also virtually sheared off a section of the cabin where emergency escape equipment and and emergency telephones were housed.

According to William Boardman, assistant to the general manager of Squaw Valley, at least one of the three cables suspending the cars jumped off the spool at the bottom of the mountain.

Boardman, who was sitting in his office near the cable house at the base of the mountain, said yesterday, “We heard a rumble and a crash and things were shaking. The exact cause we really don't know.”

Henry Saunders, a company spokesman, said at a press conference yesterday that officials from the Garaventa Corp., the Swiss manufacturer of the giant tram lift, were en route to Squaw Valley from Switzerland and would inspect the accident scene as soon as weather conditions permitted.

Alex Cushing, the Boston-born chairman of the resort company, was on his way here from New York.

Passengers were removed from both trams during a more than ten hour rescue operation conducted in blizzard conditions by more than 150 ski patrolmen, police, sheriff’s officers and residents.

The injured suffered mostly arm and leg fractures and lacerations, according to spokesmen.

Three of the passengers on the descending tram — Lawrence Hinckle, 28, Milpitas, Drepak K. Merchant, 31, Menlo Park, and Dean Wisniewski, Alameda, were killed immediately as the two-inch diameter cable whipped through the car.

Gina Wisniewski, Dean’s wife, died in the arms of a rescuer who tried to carry her to safety.

The tram system had been in operation since 1969, according to Boardman. Three weeks ago, he said, an electrical failure on the line stranded riders for about half an hour.

The system had its most recent state inspection in February, he said. The tramway had been closed for repairs three days last week and yesterday was to have been the last day of operation for the huge system, before it would be shut down for routine summer maintenance.

Though Squaw Valley is the largest ski resort in California, and a prestigious one, it has a long history of safety irregularities.

State industrial safety inspectors have filed formal complaints on safety violations on numerous occasions, the most extensive in 1974, when a total of $17,895 in civil penalties were imposed against Cushing. The state found violations on two major ski lifts involving the brake systems.

Cushing’s company operates 24 lifts at Squaw Valley. Since 1960, the resort has had at least seven significant chair lift accidents, involving injuries to scores of persons. The tram system, however, has never been cited by state inspectors.

Only the lower slopes of the huge Squaw Valley resort were open for business yesterday.

With snow still falling heavily, the upper reaches of Emigrant Peak, where the tragedy occurred, remained shrouded in clouds as weekend skiers lined up at the 23 smaller lifts still operating.

The last victim had been lowered from the death car shortly after 1 a.m. yesterday.


San Francisco Chronicle
Tuesday, April 18, 1978
Page 1, Section A, Column 5

Key Question
in Tram Probe
Is the Wind

By William Moore
Chronicle Correspondent

Squaw Valley
Placer county

Sunny, cloudless skies after three days of clouds and heavy snow failed to shed any light yesterday on the key question at the tragedy-scrred ski resort: What caused a heavy stell cable to jump from its tower mountings, slice through the roof of the world’s largest aerial tramway and kill four victims?

“We just don’t know — it’s almost if some magic force lifted the cable out of the trough,” said Terry Ford, the personal injury attorney for the corporation that runs Squaw Valley’s network of ski lifts.

Almost as soon as yesterday’s many-sided investigations began, disputed accounts of the tragedy focused on the state of mountain-top winds at the time.

Ford insisted preliminary studies by resort officials indicated that wind was not the cause of Squaw’s worst-ever accident, but others said that the winds were fierce.

“The wind was rather minimal,” Ford said. “Each of the two tram cars is equipped with a tilt gauge, and at no time, the operator told us, did the car ever tilt more than five degrees, which means the wind couldn’t have been much.”

Still, at least one investigator from the State Division of Industrial Safety was unwilling to rule out the wind factor. “There could have been a single gust — that always can happen,” said Senior Safety Engineer Howard Christiansen.

And Charles Herbert, assistant leader of the National Ski Patrol’s Squaw Valley patrol, said that when he arrived at “High Camp,” the upper tram terminus, shortly after the accident, “there was a driving snowstorm so you could barely make it out. You couldn’t hear anything but the wind whistling.”

Some passengers aboard the stricken tram had estimated winds were blowing at more than 40 miles an hour, but one skier who rode the tram just before its last ill-fated trip had a different view:

“Sure there was a wind,” said John Turner, 23, of Berkeley, “but I’ve been on the tram when it was much, much worse.”

“It’s my guess,” Christiansen said, “that’s what may have happened: (a strong wind). Our most recent inspection of the line in February indicated there were no maintenance problems that could have caused the accident. It really remains a mystery though.”

State investigators said their final report on the case will be ready in two weeks.

The state is attempting to determine whether criminal liability charges should be brought against the ski area.

Although tram tickets note that riders using the conveyance do so at their own risk, such warnings are meaningless in terms of absolving the operators of legal liability, according to San Francisco attorney Vasilios Choulos, a personal injury specialist.

Ford, Squaw’s attorney, said no suits have yet been filed against his client by the accident victims or their families. “I don’t expect much litigation,” he said in a rigidly controlled voice.

It appeared as if there were more investigators here yesterday than skiers. Along with state authorities, Squaw’s management brought in large teams of structural engineers and metallurgists. Insurance adjusters were all over the place.

Officials from the Garaventa Corp., the Swiss manufacturer of the lift, also flew in from Switzerland to assess things.

There were even fidgety representatives of the Snowbird Ski area near Salt Lake City, Utah — the only other resport in the United States that has a similar tram.

Another mystery about the accident, according to attorney Ford, was how one of the three tram cables managed to jump off its supports on the line’s two midway towers without damaging or even scratching the mountings.

“We’re trying to figure out which tower the cable slipped off first,” said State engineer Christiansen.

There are 325 ski lifts in California, including three tramways, and there are only five state inspectors to carry out the twice-a-year safety checks required by law, according to Christiansen.

Two inspectors cover Northern California, where 75 percent of the lifts are situated. The inspectors also conduct safety investigations of elevators and amusement park rides, Christiansen said.

Of the 31 injured in Saturday’s accident here at Squaw, four were listed in satisfactory condition at Washoe Medical Center in Reno, where they were recovering from fractures, contusions and exposure.

One of those admitted to the Reno hospital was discharged yesterday, and the two admitted to Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee were sent home on Sunday.

Fifteen others were treated at the Truckee facility and released. The rest were treated for minor injuries at makeshift emergency aid stations set up in the Squaw Valley Lodge Saturday.

The top part of the mountain, below Squaw Peak and Emigrant Peak, was closed yesterday, and only a thin weekday crowd of skiers used the lower runs. Red Dog and KT22, the two runs on the south side of the valley, remained open.

Officials said the mountaintop runs were closed because they feared the damaged tram car, still dangling from its 8000-foot-long cable, might fall on someone.

Alex Cushing, the aristocratic owner of the resort, was not seen yesterday, and employees said they did not know where he was.

Other Squaw officials appeared tense, and were either unresponsive or downright hostile to curious reporters.

The tram cars were hanging on the cable in full view of skiers yesterday and they provided grim reminders of Saturday’s catastrophe, which seemed to dominate conversation on the slopes and in the lodges.


San Francisco Chronicle
Thursday, April 20, 1978
Page 2, Section A, Column 1

Probers Rule Out Brakes as
Cause of the Tram Tragedy

By William Moore
Chronicle Correspondent

Squaw Valley
Placer county

James Beaton, a state inspector of ski life operations, stared into his scotch and soda after another unsuccessful day sleuthing for the causes of last Saturday’s Squaw Valley tram tragedy.

“The top brains in the world on tramways are here now from all over,” said the silver-haired Industrial Safety Division official. “But no one knows the answer yet.”

Terry Ford, the Squaw Valley Ski Corp.’s personal liability attorney, did announce yesterday that the many-pronged investigation has eliminated at least one possible cause — a malfunctioning brake system — for the disaster that claimed four lives and caused 31 injuries.

The attorney said a detailed inspection of the ill-fated tram car, still battered and dangling eerily from its lines above a high ridge known as Broken Arrow, has shown that none of the brakes had been unintentionally applied Saturday just before a heavy steel cable crashed and sliced into the car.

The cable, one of two massive stationary ones that served as a track for the suspended tram to grip and ride under, jumped out of its mountings on the system’s two support towers near the mountaintop Saturday afternoon in a snowstorm.

There was speculation initially that some sort of braking action might have been responsible for this.

The investigators are now coming up with theories of possible causes and trying to exclude or prove them with a scientific, engineering approach.

Ford conceded that one possible cause of the accident — wind — has not yet been ruled out.

Despite accounts by witnesses of fierce gusting, Ford said the investigators hired by Squaw Valley still do not believe there was an inordinate amount of wind at the time. “After all,” he said, “this car had operated in much greater wind before.”

He estimated the wind’s velocity at between 40 and 45 m.p.h.

“The manufacturer never told us we couldn’t operate over certain wind speeds,” Ford said. “The equipment was designed to withstand even 100 m.p.h. wind. Of course, it would have had more impact if it were blowing at an angle to the tram rather than on the same path, and we don’t know what the case was last Saturday.”

Officials of the Garaventa Corp., the aerial tram’s Swiss manufacturer, were among the many teams investigating things here, but so far they have declined to talk to the press.

Reports circulated, however, that the only other Garaventa tram in the U.S. — at the Snowbird Ski Area near Salt Lake City, Utah — was never operated when wind exceeded 40 m.p.h.

A Snowbird official, also investigating the accident here, told a reporter: “You’re not going to get me to talk about that.”

Apparently stung by press reports of Squaw’s history of lift accidents and state citations for lift safety violations, attorney Ford declared: “It has been unfair to bring these up, because we have not had any such problems in the past three years, and we have never had any such problems with the ten-year-old tram.”


San Francisco Chronicle
Saturday, April 22, 1978
Page 10, Section A, Column 4

Alex Cushing
Says He May
Close Tram

Squaw Valley
Placer county

Alex Cushing, chairman of the Squaw Valley Ski Corp., said yesterday that he will permanently close the tramway in which four people were killed last week if a new expert he’s calling in from Austria can’t find the cause of the accident.

Teams of investigators and ski lift experts have swarmed over the resort all week, but they have so far been unable to figure out what caused a steel cable to jump out of its mountings and slice through the car, causing four deaths and 31 injuries.

At a press conference, Cushing said he is calling in an expert whom he compared with Red Adair, the Texas oilfield firefighter and daredevil.

The specialist is Karl Bittner, an engineer from the University of Graz in Austria, who is the Austrian government’s chief inspector of roadways, cable cars and aerial tramways.

If Bittner cannot find the cause of last week’s accident, Cushing pledged, “that tramway will never run again in Squaw Valley.”

Cushing also chided the media for bringing up past lift accidents at Squaw in connection with the latest one. “We think we’ve had a bad rap,” he said.

He claimed a ten-year safety record for the tram, saying it carried nearly three million passengers before last week’s fatal accident.

—Our Correspondent


San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle
Sunday, April 23, 1978
Page 4, Section A, Column 1

Tram firm
draws blank
at Squaw

A spokesman for Garaventa, the Swiss manufacturer of the tram involved in the April 15 Squaw Valley accident that killed four skiers, said yesterday company engineers were ending the initial phase of their investigation without identifying the cause of the deadly incident.

At least 30 were injured when a heavy cable sliced through the tram, collapsing the roof and a wall.

Thomas J. Mellon Jr., attorney for the Swiss firm, said in a statement yesterday:

“The Garaventa representatives have found no structural, mechanical or electrical defect in the tramway.”

However, Mellon added that the company’s three investigators, who have studied the accident since April 16, believed high winds in the immdiate area of the tram car must be considered as a likely cause of the tragedy.”

Mellon said company engineers will continue the investigation both at the scene of the accident and at their Swiss headquarters though he could not specify how.


San Francisco Chronicle
Tuesday, April 25, 1978
Page 3, Section A, Column 1

Two Suits Filed
In Tram Tragedy

Placer county

Two suits were filed yesterday in the Placer County Courthouse on behalf of victims of the April 15 ski tram accident at Squaw Valley.

The first, against Squaw Valley Development Corp. and Garaventa Corp., the Swiss company that built the tram, was filed by Chester Wisniewski, whose son, Dean, and daughter-in-law, Gina, were killed in the accident.

Wisniewski filed the complaint for the couple’s 5-year-old daughter, Deanna. The suit claimed wrongful death and negligence and asked for unspecified exemplary and general damages.

The second suit, which asked for $3.5 million in exemplary damages, was filed by Patricia and David Penning of Menlo Park and their 11-year-old child. David Penning suffered a broken rib after a 100-foot fall from the disabled tram.

The accident, which killed four persons and injured 31, occurred when a runaway stell cable sliced through the car.

—Our Correspondent


San Francisco Chronicle
Thursday, April 27, 1978
Page ?, Section A, Column 1

Squaw Tram’s
License Revoked

The Squaw Valley tram on which four persons were killed April 14 had its license revoked by the state yesterday.

The tram has been closed since the accident while investigators, including some from the State Division of Industrial Safety have sought unsuccessfully to determine what made a steel cable jump its mountings and slice through the car.

The cause of the accident must be identified if the tram is ever to run again, said Art Carter, chief of the industrial safety division. Carter said the investigation is continuing.

But he said he had a legal obligation to order the tram to remain closed in the meantime.

“Whatever may be uncovered by the investigation of the accident would condition reissuance of the permit,” the division said.

The tram was last inspected January 18 and found to be in compliance with state requirements.

Alex Cushing of the Squaw Valley Ski Corp. said last week that he will not reopen the tram unless the cause of the accident is found.


#2 orangegondola

    Established User

  • Industry II
  • 108 Posts:

Posted 05 February 2004 - 08:57 PM

Did they repair or replace the cabin? I know that now there are new cabins, but when i was there in 93 both the cabins looked the same.

#3 KZ

    Multipurpose Machine

  • Industry II
  • 2,087 Posts:
  • Interests:Howdy folks, Im Zack and I live in California.

Posted 06 February 2004 - 06:59 AM

I believe the cabins were just repaired. I was there in 93 or so as well and they were the old ones. I like the old ones so much better then the new ones.

#4 orangegondola

    Established User

  • Industry II
  • 108 Posts:

Posted 06 February 2004 - 07:05 AM

Yeah, they looked really classic.

#5 liftmech

    lift mechanic

  • Administrator II
  • 5,872 Posts:
  • Interests:Many.

Posted 06 February 2004 - 03:11 PM

Obviously the tram wasn't closed permanently, despite Cushing's claim. Did anyone ever figure out why the track rope slipped out of the saddle?
Member, Department of Ancient Technology, Colorado chapter.

#6 KZ

    Multipurpose Machine

  • Industry II
  • 2,087 Posts:
  • Interests:Howdy folks, Im Zack and I live in California.

Posted 06 February 2004 - 10:24 PM

i really dont know. If there was an article, i have no idea where to find it

#7 SkiBachelor

    Forum Administrator

  • Administrator II
  • 6,242 Posts:
  • Interests:Hi, I'm Cameron!

Posted 06 February 2004 - 10:48 PM

I thought we said it was because of high winds which derailed it. This same thing happened to Jackson Holes tram, however nothing major happened. I wonder if Squaw's tram was shut down for the rest of the year?
- Cameron

1 User(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users