Injury angers victim
An Auckland woman almost lost her leg in a chairlift accident on Coronet Peak in August and is slamming NZSki for its handling of the incident.
The property manager and her fiance were foot passengers on a sightseeing trip on Coronet Peak on August 2 when they were injured leaping from the ski area's Express quad chairlift after going around the bullwheel at the top.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment labour group, formerly the Labour Department, launched an investigation into the incident and NZSki voluntarily suspended all walking tours on the skifield in the interim.
The woman spent four weeks in hospital unable to get out of bed.
Her leg was shattered in four places when she landed on rocks after being told to jump from the chairlift by an NZSki staffer.
Her injuries were so severe she required two five-hour long surgeries involving bone grafts to repair the damage.
"I almost lost my leg," she said.
"Before the second operation the surgeon told me we would know in 72 hours whether I would need to have my leg amputated below the knee.
"It should never have happened."
Nine weeks after the incident she still needed round-the-clock care and said her doctor had advised her she had a long road to recovery ahead.
"When I asked if I will ever have full use of my leg he said, ‘Ask me again in two years'.
"I'm not well.
" I feel like it has taken years off my life."
When the Mirror contacted NZSki chief executive James Coddington he declined to hear the woman's concerns or comment on the incident until the investigation had been completed, which was expected within the next month.
At the time of the incident NZSki issued a statement to the Southland Times stating the incident was due to difficulty unloading at the top of the lift.
"The woman and her partner missed the unload area and attempted to offload while the chair was going around the bullwheel."
The couple agree they offloaded after going around the bullwheel but insist they only did so because they were told to by an NZSki staffer.
Having told the lift operator at the bottom they were walkers and had never been on a chairlift, the couple felt reassured they would be assisted.
"He told us he would radio through to the operator to assist us off and slow the chair."
But as they approached the top the lift did not slow and no-one helped the couple until a woman started yelling at them to lift the bar as they went around the bullwheel, she said.
"She was some distance away raking snow . . . we heard her voice yelling, ‘lift the bar, lift the bar', then she started calling out ‘jump, jump'."
The woman said she was reluctant to jump from the chair but after her fiance jumped she followed him. They would not have raised the bar, let alone jumped from the chair, if the woman hadn't yelled for them to do so, she insisted.
"It was a good two-metre drop," she said.
Her fiance has been advised him by a specialist that he ruptured his shoulder and will require reconstruction.
The pair was critical of NZSki management for issuing a statement to the Southland Times stating the company would: ". . . do everything we can to ensure that the woman and her partner are looked after appropriately."
"Saying they were assisting us on August 2 is just absolutely mind-boggling."
They couple said it wasn't until late on August 3 they were contacted by the company and their initial request for assistance with accommodation and transport while the woman was in hospital in Invercargill was declined. Following a second conversation, during which they threatened to go to the media, the company agreed to provide accommodation and transport.
The woman said she was relying on the investigation to ensure this did not happen to anyone else.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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