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Skier suffocates to death after getting caught in Vail chairlift

Posted at 4:45 PM, Feb 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-17 17:11:38-05

VAIL, Colo. (Vail Daily) — Officials say a skier appears to have suffocated to death at a Colorado resort after he fell through an opening in a chairlift seat and became caught with his coat wrapped around his head and neck.

The Vail Daily reports 46-year-old Jason Varnish of Short Hills, New Jersey, died Thursday.

The Eagle County coroner says the death has been ruled an accident. She says the chairlift's folding seat was upright instead of in the down position, leaving a gap.

Varnish's coat became caught when he slipped through. Authorities are investigating.

Vail Resorts issued a statement on the man's death on Friday.

“Vail Mountain confirms a serious incident that took place yesterday involving a 46-year-old man from New Jersey. The incident occurred when the guest attempted to load the Skyline Express lift (Chair 37). Vail Mountain Ski Patrol responded to the incident and performed CPR and emergency care on scene before the guest was transported to Vail Health, where he was pronounced deceased.

“We take all incidents seriously and are conducting a full investigation.

“The lift has been thoroughly inspected and is operating normally.

“’Vail Mountain and the entire Vail Resorts family express our sincere condolences and extend our support to the guest’s family and friends,’ said Beth Howard, chief operating officer.”