Fatal zipline accident at Stowe Mountain Resort investigated

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A renovated gondola cabin hangs from its lifting cable at Stowe Mountain Resort in 2014. File photo by Glenn Callahan / Stowe Reporter

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

Scott Lewis, 53, of Stowe crashed into the anchor platform that supports a zipline at the station just after 3 p.m. Thursday, police said.

Lewis was ziplining, which he had been doing for two years when the accident happened, according to the Stowe Police Department. Police are still investigating, but at this point they are calling the problem a “mechanical failure.”

The resort website claims his zipline has a braking system that allows riders to control their speed, which can reach up to 60 mph.

Stowe Mountain Resort is also conducting its own investigation into the crash and is suspending zipline operations until it is complete, said Jeff Wise, the resort’s communications manager, 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 telephone interview.

Stowe Mountain Resort uses a type of zipline called ZipTour, distributed by ZipHoldings, according to website. Stowe’s ZipTour has three sections, the website says, each with two lines 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 course includes nearly 10,200 feet of cable, or just under 2 miles, making it the second longest zipline in the United States.

Neither the compound nor the police have disclosed which section Lewis was driving during the crash. However, they all end with the same type of platform: a free-standing wooden bridge that sits below the line, leaving room for hanging riders to land on their feet.

“Stowe Resort and the entire Vail Resorts family extend their deepest sympathy and support to the family and friends of this employee,” said Wise. “We’re also making sure our team members get the care and support they need during this time.”

Stowe Police are asking anyone who saw the crash to call them at 802-253-7126.

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