Local News, State News

Fatal zip line accident at Stowe Mountain Resort under investigation

By Jackie O’Brien/VTDigger

Authorities are investigating why a Stowe Mountain Resort employee crashed and died while riding a zip line on Thursday.

Scott Lewis, 53, of Stowe crashed into the anchoring platform that holds up a zip line at the resort just after 3 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 21, police said.

Lewis was working at the zip line, which he had done for two years, when the accident occurred, according to the Stowe Police Department. Police are still investigating but at this stage are calling the issue a “mechanical failure.”

The resort’s website says its zip line has a braking system that allows riders to control their speeds, which can reach up to 60 mph.

Stowe Mountain Resort is also conducting its own investigation into the crash, and is suspending zip line operations until it is completed, Jeff Wise, the resort’s communications manager, said in an email.

Since Lewis was working at the time of his death, the Vermont Occupational and Health Administration will also work with police to investigate, Dirk Anderson, general counsel for the Vermont Department of Labor, said in a phone interview.

Stowe Mountain Resort uses a type of zip line called ZipTour, distributed by ZipHoldings, according to the resort’s website. The ZipTour at Stowe has three sections, each with two lines running parallel to each other. A section called Nosedive is about 4,460 feet long; Haselton, 2,250 feet; and Perry Merrill, 3,480 feet. The total run includes nearly 10,200 feet of cable, or just under 2 miles, making it the second-longest zip line in the United States.

Neither the resort nor the police have released which section Lewis was riding during the accident. However, they all end with the same kind of platform: a stand-alone wooden deck that sits below the line, giving room for dangling riders to land on their feet.

“Stowe Resort and the entire Vail Resorts family extend our deepest sympathy and support to this employee’s family and friends,” Wise said. “We are also ensuring our team members are receiving the care and support they need during this time.”

Stowe police ask anyone who saw the accident is asked to call them at 802-253-7126.

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