By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - An unconscious man dangling by his neck from a chair lift at a Colorado ski area was rescued by a high-wire artist who shimmied across a cable to cut him loose, the resort said on Thursday.
The harrowing incident unfolded on Wednesday when a skier’s backpack became entangled in the chair as he was unloading, leaving him hanging in the air by a strap, the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area said in a statement.
The lift was immediately stopped and a part-time ski instructor at the resort, Mickey Wilson, who was in the chair lift behind the man, jumped into action.
Wilson, who was off-duty, wrote on his Instagram account that “panic was becoming terror” when he saw that the man was unconscious and could die.
“I realized I could climb the lift tower above the chair and climb onto the cable and shimmy down to him,” Wilson said.
When Wilson reached the skier, ski patrollers tossed him a knife, which he used to cut the strap and free the man, who fell about 15 feet (4.57 m) to the mountainside where a paramedic administered emergency aid, the ski area said.
The unidentified man was transported to St. Anthony Hospital in suburban Denver where he was treated and released, said hospital spokeswoman Wendy Forbes.
A video of the incident was posted on the Denver Post website. (http://dpo.st/2j8wl5R)
Wilson described himself as a professional “slackliner,” an activity where participants balance themselves on a flat piece of tubular webbing suspended between two anchors such as trees, according to the Chicago Slackliner Association’s website.
Arapahoe Basin said the accident was not the result of a mechanical malfunction.
It was the second mishap involving a chair lift at a Colorado ski area in less than a week.
On Dec. 29, a 40-year old Texas woman was killed and her two daughters injured when they plummeted about 25 feet from a chair lift at the Ski Granby Ranch, county officials said.
The cause of that incident is still under investigation.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Matthew Lewis)