Final report: Rapid speed changes, drive control modification caused fatal fall from chairlift

DENVER — Modifications to a ski lift drive control system and quick speed changes by the lift operator caused a mother and her two daughters to be thrown from a chairlift at Ski Granby Ranch in December, according to a final report from state investigators that was released Thursday.

The Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board places the blame on a chairlift malfunction. Environmental factors, weather and the actions of the victims were cleared as having anything to do with the incident.

The 25-foot fall from the Quick Draw Express lift killed 40-year-old Kelly Huber of San Antonio. She was pronounced dead at a Granby emergency room after the incident on Dec. 29.

Huber’s 12-year-old daughter was treated and released from a hospital in Granby and her 9-year-old daughter was treated at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora.

“No one on the investigative team has ever witnessed or heard of a similar event,” the final report said.

According to the report, the drive system modification “may have created pulses of energy that could explain the rope instability.”

The chair the three were riding in struck a support tower, and Huber and her children were thrown from the chair.

Engineers reported that issues within the chairlift’s electrical drive and control system created a “rare dynamic event.”

Huber suffered a traumatic rupture of her aorta, according to an autopsy. She also suffered other blunt force injuries.