New Jersey Man Hangs Himself in Freak Ski Lift Accident in Colorado

The coroner said he died of “positional asphyxia”.

A skier has died in a freak accident involving a chairlift in Colorado.

46-year-old Jason Varnish from New Jersey was killed when he fell through a gap in the seat and his coat became entangled on the lift, strangling him.

The incident happened on the Skyline Express lift at the Blue Sky Basin section of the Vail Ski Resort on Thursday.

According to witnesses, the victim was attempting to get onto the lift, but the folding seat was in an upright position, instead of being folded down — which left a gap big enough for a person to slip through.

Vail Mountain Ski Patrol attempted CPR, but it was too late.

Coroner Kara Bettis ruled the death an accident, telling the Vail Daily he died of positional asphyxia.

"We are still investigating how this whole situation happened," she said. "According to our initial investigation, the deceased slipped through the seat of the chair lift and his ski coat got caught up in the chair."

"The coat ended up going up around his head and neck area putting his neck in a position that compromised his airway."

Blue Sky Basin was shut down for 24 hours after the incident. The resort said it would carry out a full investigation, adding "The lift has been thoroughly inspected and is operating normally."

In 2009 another man was left hanging, albeit not fatally but rather upside-down and pants-less, after falling through a non-folded down chair on the same ski lift.

The last fatal accident in the state involving a ski lift occurred in December 2016, when a 40-year-old Texas woman was thrown from one while riding with her two daughters. An investigation found recent modifications to the control system and rapid speed changes made by the operator were to blame, the Denver Post reported at the time.

Meanwhile, a 70-year-old skier from Texas died after crashing into a tree at Purgatory resort in Colorado on Saturday.

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