A child was left dangling precariously after slipping off a Mt Hutt chairlift before falling five meters into the arms of rescuers gathered on the slope below.
Shocked onlookers watched as the youngster clung for two minutes, his skis dangling beneath them.
Fellow skiers and rescuers rushed to grab safety pads from a nearby chairlift tower, and after they formed a makeshift net, the boy fell — and was caught safely.
A video, taken by a skier on the mountain on Sunday afternoon, shows the child hanging under the chairlift and the moment they fell, capturing the cheers and cheers of the successful rescue mission.
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Christchurch woman Jennifer Jones, who recorded the incident, said she was snowboarding when she heard people yelling “Stop, stop, stop”.
She looked around and saw the child dangling from the chairlift and could only watch as he squirmed and dropped a pole and then a ski.
“People yelled at him not to move. I thought, ‘Oh my god,’ said Jones.
She said the staff ran away when they saw the child, while other workers got into snowmobiles and grabbed pillows wrapped around the tower and placed them under him before he fell safely.
Jones said the whole incident was over in two minutes.
Mt Hutt Ski Area manager James McKenzie said the child was not injured in the incident.
A full investigation was underway to determine what happened, but it appeared that the safety bar did not come down between the child’s legs, allowing him to slip underneath, he said.
The adult sitting next to the boy checked that he was safely on the elevator and in the correct position, but something happened between that moment and the lowering of the safety bar, which meant that it was up to one side of his body. legs came.
The incident was immediately noticed by staff and the chairlift was stopped approximately 15 meters from the terminal before coming to a stop.
“We will talk to the child, adult and staff operating the elevator at the time,” McKenzie said.
“When we’ve done all that, we’ll have a much better understanding of what happened.”
The incident happened on Mt Hutt’s new eight-person chairlift, the Nor’West Express, launched this season.
The lift was the first of its kind in New Zealand and can take up to 3,000 people an hour to the top of the piste in two minutes – more than double the number the old four-person chairlift could.
McKenzie said the new lift was incredibly popular with skiers and had resulted in a significant reduction in incidents compared to the old quad lift.
Feedback from parents so far has been that they were much happier with their small children on this new elevator, he said.
This was the first incident of its kind this season, McKenzie said.
“You can design things for 99.9 percent of the behavior that people have, and sometimes you get caught. I’m not saying that’s what happened in this case.”
More than 50,000 skiers have hit the slopes of Mt Hutt since it opened on June 11.