British Columbia

Intentional cutting of gondola cable could have 'seriously hurt or killed' someone, report says

Technical Safety B.C. report concludes the Sea to Sky gondola rope was deliberately cut near one of the towers, sending 30 gondola cars crashing to the ground on the morning of Aug.10, 2019.

Technical Safety B.C. report backs police conclusion Sea to Sky gondola rope was deliberately cut

Sea to Sky Gondola cars limp to the ground, days after RCMP said the gondola's cable was deliberately cut by a vandal. (CBC)

A report by Technical Safety B.C. into the Sea to Sky gondola crash shows the cable was deliberately cut, sending 30 gondola cars crashing to the ground.

There were no previous issues with the rope or the design of the gondola, according to the report from the independent organization that oversees heavy equipment in the province. 

"Cutting the haul rope was an extremely dangerous act," said Jeff Coleman, Technical Safety B.C.'s director of risk and safety knowledge. 

"Anyone close to the gondola when this occurred could have been seriously hurt or killed."

The two-kilometre long gondola, located along Highway 99 in Squamish, was felled by an alleged vandal in the early morning of Aug. 10.

Almost all of the 30 gondola cars attached to the cable crashed to the ground at around 4 a.m., according to staff working overnight. No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.

The Technical Safety B.C. investigation found strands of the cable were cut while under tension, likely near one of the towers. Once a majority of the strands were severed, the tension caused the entire cable to snap.

Technical Safety B.C. diagram shows what parts of the gondola cable were intentionally cut. (Technical Safety BC)

The cable is 52 millimetres in diameter and is made up of six strands, according to the report. It regularly transports several tonnes when the gondola cars are loaded.

The towers along the gondola route are accessible from nearby hiking trails. They have ladders attached for maintenance with no barriers stopping someone from gaining access to the cables.

A fistful of severed steel cables.
Technical Safety B.C. image shows part of the severed gondola cable. (Technical Safety B.C.)

The report also makes conclusions about where on the cable the cut was made and what was used to cut it. Those parts are blacked out because of the ongoing criminal investigation by the RCMP. 

Two weeks into their investigation, police confirmed initial suspicions it was a deliberate act. 

So far, no suspects have been named.


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