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State law requires ski lifts to be inspected every morning prior to skier and snowboarder use

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Posted at 9:50 PM, Dec 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-30 23:52:40-05

GRAND COUNTY, Colo. -- Colorado requires daily inspections of ski lifts before skiers and snowboarders are allowed on.

On Thursday, Texas mom Kelly Huber and her two daughters fell off a ski lift at Ski Granby Ranch. Huber died from her injuries. One of her daughters was airlifted to Children's Hospital Denver. The family has asked that the hospital not provide any updates on her condition.

"There's a mandated, early morning, preoperational inspection that occurs on every single lift prior to opening to the public," said C.A. Lane, Vice President of Resort Operations and Assistant General Manager at Winter Park.

Denver7 went to Winter Park, near Granby Ranch, to get a firsthand look at how ski lifts are inspected.

"You become very intimate with the sights and sounds of each ski lift. Our maintenance personnel and our operators that ride these every single day, they'll go through, and they'll look at the sheave trains; they'll listen, they'll take a look at what's called the communication and signal wire down the middle; they'll look at the haul rope, and it's not just in the morning, it's while we're riding chairs, literally, every single day," said Lane.

He said the visual inspections of the mechanics and electronics takes about 20 minutes for each lift, then an employee will ride the lift before opening it to the public.

"It's a mechanical piece of equipment, exposed to extreme weather conditions, especially overnight, when sometimes with the cold weather we have, they're a little grumpy getting up in the morning," said Lane. "It's not unusual to have a series of electronic signals that we have to go through and check out."

The investigation into the accident at Ski Granby Ranch is still ongoing. It is not yet known if the safety bar was pulled down prior to the family falling from the ski lift, but in Colorado, there is no law mandating the use of the safety bar.

"Right now, in the state of Colorado, whether it's required or not on a chair lift, is kind of up for debate," said Lane.