Virginia father sues Ski Liberty after 9-year-old son injured in chairlift accident

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ADAMS COUNTY, Pa.–The father of a 9-year-old boy who fell off of a chairlift at  Liberty Mountain Resort in Adams County in January 2015 has filed a federal lawsuit against the facility.

A cell phone video captured the boy plummeting 30 feet down from the chairlift on January 10, 2015.

The lawsuit, which seeks damages totaling more than $75,000 was filed Wednesday in the United States Middle District Court of Pennsylvania by the boy’s father, Brian Bates, of Falls Church, Virginia.

The lawsuit contends Ski Liberty failed to adequately staff the quad chairlift and failed to react to the danger that unfolded.

The suit states the incident happened as the boy and his father were preparing to board chairlift number four. The boy dropped one of his ski poles and as he bent down to pick up the pole, the chairlift struck him in his lower back. The force of the chairlift knocked him off-balance and the boy grabbed onto the legs of the man next to him, who along with his wife, were sharing the quad chairlift with his family.

As the chair rapidly ascended above the trees and rocks with the boy dangling and struggling to hold on, numerous people shouted for help and other patrons called down to the chairlift operator for emergency assistance.

The lawsuit asserted that the chairlift continued to travel up the mountain for nearly seven minutes before it was stopped. All the while, the boy struggled to hold on as his father desperately clutched his arm.

According to the suit, the chairlift was stopped approximately 29 feet above the ground, when the boy slipped from the grips of his father and another patron and plummeted to the ground.

Members of the ski patrol, who were in plain view of the events unfolding, failed provide any cushion or other emergency devices to minimize the boy’s fall, according to the suit.

The lawsuit states the chairlift was inadequately staffed, with only one lift attendant monitoring the quad chairlift. The suit claims the chairlift operator failed to recognize the dangerous situation unfolding directly in front of him and to stop the chairlift prior to the chair ascending to a level and area of such life-threatening danger.

Bates contends that both he and his son suffer from  severe physical and emotional injuries as a result of the fall.