48 rescued from tram cars stuck above N.H. ski resort

By Ed Adamczyk Follow @adamczyk_ed Contact the Author   |   Feb. 15, 2016 at 10:23 AM

FRANCONIA , N.H., Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Forty-eight skiers were rescued from two disabled tram cars above New Hampshire's Cannon Mountain ski resort after being stranded for more than an hour.

The overhead aerial tramway employs two cars, one leaving the terminal at the bottom of a 2,022-foot mountain as another leaves from the top. Sunday afternoon each car became stuck 50 to 75 feet from their respective terminals when the braking system engaged and did not release.

The lower car, with 41 passengers aboard, was suspended 40 feet above a parking lot and a road. The upper car had seven passengers. Rescue crews entered each car and removed the passengers by rappelling them down to the ground with ropes. The passengers were given blankets and were transferred to restaurants at the top and bottom of the mountain for warm food and drinks.

After being stalled for more than one hour, the upper car was evacuated first, taking nearly 30 minutes. The lower car was then emptied, taking one hour, Cannon Mountain officials said.

There were no injuries reported. Most aboard the tram cars were skiers, but one couple, George and Sabrina Lewis, were there to sightsee with their 8-month-old daughter, Remy. All passengers descended safely from the tram cars, and many treated the incident as a convivial experience.

"Everyone was laughing and having fun, so it was just a different experience," said passenger Matt Dew.

John DeVivo, Cannon Mountain Ski Area general manager, said it was his first evacuation experience.

"This is my ninth winter here at Cannon," he said. "We actually run a tram inspection of every tower and essentially all the moving parts every single morning regardless of whether the tram is going to operate for the public that day."

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