Park City Mountain employee killed in lift accident |

Park City Mountain employee killed in lift accident

A tree fell onto the Short Cut lift around 10:45 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 2

Toria Barnhart
Park Record
A Park City Mountain employee died Monday morning, Jan. 2, 2023 following a fall from a chair on the Short Cut lift after a tree fell on the lift line.
David Jackson/Park Record

PARK CITY — A Park City Mountain employee died Monday morning, Jan. 2 following a fall from a chairlift after a tree fell on the lift line.

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 4 identified him as 29-year-old Christian Helger, a resident of Millcreek.

Around 10:45 a.m., a tree fell on the resort’s Short Cut chairlift line. Helger, who was working as an on-duty ski patroller, was riding at the time and became unseated. He fell from at least 25 feet up, according to Sara Huey, senior manager of communications. 

Park City Mountain Ski Patrol immediately responded to the area and performed life-saving efforts, but Helger did not survive.

“The Park City Mountain team – as well as the entire Vail Resorts team – extend our deepest sympathy and support to the family and friends of our team member,” said Deirdra Walsh, Park City Mountain vice president and chief operating officer. “We are all deeply saddened by this tragic incident, and we will be providing support for our employees as we grieve this devastating loss.” 

Ski Patrol safely evacuated 10 other people on the chairlift. The lift evacuation was completed by 1:06 p.m., according to Huey. Several other chairlifts in the area were closed to support the response. The Short Cut chairlift will remain closed pending an investigation into the incident. 

Sheriff’s Office Capt. Andrew Wright said the tree likely hit the line behind the chair Helger was riding, causing it to oscillate and unseat him. Wright estimates he fell closer to 50 feet, or more, into deep snow.

A deputy hiked down to the area to assist with the investigation. Wright said there are many questions about why the tree fell that officials hope to answer, and that a medical examiner will determine Helger’s cause of death. The Sheriff’s Office has been in contact with the Helger’s family out of state.

“Our prayers are with the Helger family as they grieve the loss of Christian. Hug your loved ones often and tell them you love them,” Sheriff Justin Martinez said in a statement.

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