Skier dies after fall from lift
A 19-year-old Stateline man died after falling 30 feet from the Dipper Express chairlift at Heavenly Mountain Resort on Wednesday morning, according to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office.
Ryan Donald Moore fell from the chairlift at about 11:30 a.m. after leaning forward to care for a leg cramp, according to a news release from Heavenly. The restraining bar on the chairlift was not engaged, the resort said.
Moore was accompanied on the chairlift by another rider, according to the sheriff’s office.
“By all appearances, this was an accident,” said El Dorado County Sheriff’s Lt. Les Lovell.
One engine company and a medical unit from the Tahoe Douglas Fire Department responded to the scene. Moore suffered major trauma from the fall and was airlifted by CALSTAR to Barton Memorial Hospital, the sheriff’s office said. Additional lifesaving measures were unsuccessful.
Moore was pronounced dead around 12:46 p.m.
Moore was not wearing a helmet at the time of the fall and landed on terrain that was not covered with snow, said Heavenly Mountain Resort spokesman Russ Pecoraro.
Heavenly encourages riders to use the restraining bar on its lifts, although it’s not practical to require every rider to do so, Pecoraro said. Using the restraint is part of the skier code of responsibility, which is posted on lift towers.
“We always encourage people to put the bar down,” Pecoraro said. “That’s one of those things that’s hard to police.”
Pecoraro said the resort would evaluate possible changes to its safety policies after the investigation into the incident is complete. He said Heavenly would remain open for skiing today.
Moore was originally from Santa Ynez and was living in Stateline with roommates, Lovell said.
He graduated in 2006 from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, according to the school’s principal, Norm Clevenger.
“I remembered him after I saw a picture. He was a pretty nice kid; lived in Santa Ynez and was a member of the golf team. This is a small community, and there will be a lot of kids affected by this,” Clevenger said in a phone interview Wednesday night.
South Lake Tahoe resident Sara DeFrancesco was on the Dipper Express lift when she looked down and saw someone surrounded by rescue personnel.
The man was in a rocky area that he couldn’t possibly have skied into, DeFrancesco said, and she quickly realized that he must have fallen from the lift.
“It was absolutely terrifying to see him helpless there,” DeFrancesco said. “There was no question he was in serious trouble.”
DeFrancesco, a 26-year-old snowboarder, said she hasn’t always used the restraining bar while on the chairlifts, but she will now.
“We don’t need to be cool,” she said. “We need to be safe.”
– Tribune editor Paul Dunn contributed to this report.
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