Injuries and Trapped Skiers in Lift Accident At Sugarloaf

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The derailment of a chairlift at Sugarloaf Mountain ski resort in Maine left as many as eight people injured and about 220 skiers temporarily stranded 30 to 40 feet above the ground.

Rescuers used harnesses to bring people off the lift, which derailed after a strong gust of wind.

Five chairs fell to the ground in the accident.

Matt Pisini, 13, whose family has a condo at the ski resort, says he was heading up the mountain for a ski lesson when the chairlift cable gave way.

"I was really nervous because the cable gave a big jerk and it stared dipping. And I heard screams and looked back and saw people on the ground. I couldn't believe it," Pisini tells AOL Travel News.

Only 3 or 4 cars ahead of those that fell to the ground, the teenager was trapped in a dangling car for more than an hour and a half until rescuers hoisted a harness and he was able to climb down.

"They throw this weighted ball over the cable and attach a harness and bring it to you and you put the harness on and fasten it under your arm pits and slowly they let you down," Pisini says.

While he was stranded on the lift, his father, Jim Pisini, a Portland physician, was making one last run before meeting up with his son. Jim says he wasn't aware there was an issue until he heard a lift was closed and happened to take a turn and see a roped off area.

When he realized what had happened he offered to help.

First responders were already on the scene, Jim says, and the injured had been stabilized.

"People were in toboggans and they were bringing in one more backboard for someone. It was extremely well orchestrated," Jim says.

He adds he did not know his son was stuck on the lift even though Matt was trying to shout to him.

"He was wearing a new ski outfit he got for Christmas and I didn't recognize him on the lift," Jim says.

Matt says he actually had his cell phone in his pocket, but it wasn't on and he decided it was too cold to take off his gloves, dig it out and call his parents.

According to WBZ radio in Boston, one passenger was life-flighted to Maine Medical Center in Portland. Other injuries were believed to be minor.

The accident occurred on the Spillway East slope, which runs to the top of the mountain.

In a statement, the ski resort says the derailment occured on the lift's eighth tower.

"As a result of this derailment, five chairs fell an estimated 25-30 feet to the ground below. At this time there have been six injuries reported. All injured guests have been treated and are being transported to area hosiptals."

According to Jim Pisini, it took about two hours to get all the stranded skiers off the lift.

(Story updated at 2:15 p.m.)

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