NEWS

Yukon girl choked as scarf caught in Mount Sima ski lift

01/22/2015 12:05 EST | Updated 03/24/2015 05:59 EDT
A Whitehorse girl is recovering after her scarf became tangled in the lift at the Mount Sima ski hill, causing her to choke and lose consciousness as the cable dragged her forward.

Cindy Chandler, the general manager of the ski hill, is pledging new safety measures after the incident Friday.

Chandler was teaching a lesson on the bunny hill during a school visit when the young snowboarder's scarf got tangled in a tow-line.

"There were some kids yelling 'Get off, get off,' and someone was saying 'I can't,'" she said.

Chandler said the girl was wearing an infinity scarf, a flowing loop of fabric sometimes worn loosely in a figure-eight around the neck.

"Somehow, getting off, the scarf got looped around the handle," Chandler says. 

"She was dragging along the ground, possibly a metre, metre and a half," Chandler recalls.  

Staff at Mount Sima have access to emergency stop buttons, and Chandler said the tow line was stopped within seconds.

"When I got over there, she was unconscious. I tried to get the scarf away from her neck—I realized she was being choked by her scarf."

Staff freed the girl and called for medical help.

"If it was 20 seconds, that would be the maximum. As soon as the tension was released on her neck, we put her on her side and she was coming to," Chandler said.

New safety measures

Chandler said Mount Sima will install new safety features. The safety gate that automatically stops the tow-line when it's touched will be moved closer to the zone where people release the handle.

Mount Sima staff will also be checking for loose clothing and talking to children as they prepare to use the line. 

"We will do something differently, said Chandler. "Because every time you have an incident, you reassess." 

According to Chandler, the 11-year-old girl is doing well, and has even returned to the hill.

"She was here on Sunday. We had a grand opening of our snow castle and she was here enjoying the festivities," she said.

The girl's family could not be reached for comment.

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