A Texas family recently agreed to settle a lawsuit over the wrongful death of their mother, Kelly Huber.
Back in 2016, a Texas mom and her children were visiting a Colorado ski resort when the chairlift malfunctioned. As a result of that malfunction, the mother, Kelly Huber, died and her daughters, 9-year-old Taylor and 12-year-old Ashley were injured. Soon after the tragic incident, the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the ski area “and the electrical company that worked on the Quick Draw Express lift.” Earlier this week, a settlement agreement was announced.
The incident happened in 2016. While the details of the settlement have yet to be announced, the lawyer representing the family said they are “pleased with the outcome and anxious to move on with their lives.” A statement from the family further stated:
“The Huber family appreciates all the love and support they received from people all over the country who responded to this tragedy and helped them cope with their tremendous loss.”
The suit was filed in December 2017 in U.S. District Court in Denver and moved to Grand County District Court in 2019.
What happened, though? Well, according to the lawsuit, the mother and two children were on the ski area’s Quickdraw Express chairlift when it “struck tower 5 at a 45-degree angle.” The collision caused them to be “30 feet onto hard-packed snow.” Both of the children sustained extensive injuries.
Soon after the incident, the state launched an investigation and found “problems with the drive system that powered the chairlift, which resulted in rapid speed changes on Dec. 29, 2016.” It further stated that “modifications to the lift’s power system by the resort and electrical contractor Electramic Associates caused the lift to suddenly speed up, which flung the chairlift into a tower, ejecting the Hubers.”
While Kelly’s death from a malfunctioning chairlift was the first of its kind in Colorado “since a bullwheel fell off the then 2-year-old Teller lift at Keystone in 1985, killing two skiers and injuring 49,” chairlift malfunctions were responsible for 14 deaths across the country between 1973 and 2020, according to the National Ski Areas Association. It’s important to note that during that same chunk of time, “the U.S. resort industry provided 18.3 billion chairlift rides to resort guests, covering 9.2 billion miles.”
That being said, lawsuits like the one the Huber filed are rare, especially with legislation like the 1979 Colorado Ski Safety Act on the books. That particular law, which has been mirrored in other states, “outlines the responsibilities of both skiers and ski resorts and limits liability for resort operators.” Under the legislation, skiers are required to “follow a responsibility code but allows lawsuits if skiers can prove negligence or reckless actions, like chairlift malfunctions.”