British Columbia

Boy's fall from Whistler chairlift captured on video

Tristan Stead, a young boy who survived a fall from a ski chairlift at the Whistler-Blackcomb resort, now thinks his narrow escape was fun, once he got through the "scary part."

Rescuers used a firefighter's safety net to catch boy as he dropped from chairlift

A child falls to a safety net from the Peak Express chairlift at the Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort. (Christopher Sakai/YouTube)

Tristan Stead, a young boy who survived a fall from a ski chairlift at the Whistler-Blackcomb resort in B.C., now thinks his narrow escape was fun, once he got through the "scary part."

Tristan's mother, Liz Stead, says she is grateful to the quick-thinking lift operator and some volunteer rescuers who managed to catch her son in a safety net when he dropped after dangling from the chair.

The 11-year-old Seattle boy had slipped while trying to pick up a ski pole he had dropped while loading on the chairlift. The safety bar had not yet been lowered when he slid out of the chair, according to a statement released by the resort. 

As the chairlift began to rise, the other guests on the chair, including his uncle, were able to hold on to the boy, who was left dangling.

The lift operator stopped the chair between the first and the second towers, the resort said.

In a video of the incident posted on YouTube by Christopher Sakai, the boy can be seen hanging below the feet of the others on the chair.

"Luckily, the quick thinking of the lift operator stopped the lift and got six guys to save the child," wrote Sakai in the post.

Rescuers grabbed safety net

His uncle was able to hold on to the 80-pound boy — who had already kicked off his skis — until the rescuers ran up the slope with a firefighter's safety net and stretched it out under the boy to break his fall.

The video ends as the boy falls about six metres into the waiting net, followed by cheers from the crowd in the lift line.

Since it was posted on Monday, the video has attracted the attention of news media around the world, including requests for interviews with everyone involved.

The resort said all lift operators are trained in the use of the net and other safety procedures.

Aside from a stiff neck, his mother said, Tristan was unharmed.

"'Mommy, I fell off the chairlift,'" was how he described it, she said. "For him it was a grand adventure."

When she watched the video, Stead said, it hadn't been as terrifying as it could have been, because her son was sitting next to her safe and sound.

"It had a good ending."

But she said it's also a lesson learned for her son: just leave the ski pole behind if he drops it again getting on a lift. 

With files from Brenna Rose


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