Beach Mountain, N.C. — At the Beach Mountain Resort in Avery County, a damaged fire hydrant sprayed a jet of water at skiers riding an elevator, causing several to jump off the building and injuring several others.
On Friday, a guest slipped into a water and air hydrant while snowmaking operations were in progress, ski resort management said. Videos circulating on social media showed skiers on chair lifts being hit by water.
Two people were taken to area hospitals by Avery County emergency medical personnel with what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries, the resort said in a statement. The person who slipped into the hydrant was not injured.
“Once we became aware of the issue, our operations and safety teams acted as quickly as possible to safely drain the system and assist the remaining skiers to disembark at the top of the lift,” resort management said in a statement.
Channel 9’s Glenn Counts spoke to two women about how horrific the incident was.
“I was in pain, mostly on the left side of my body,” Emma Lopinto said. “I had bruises from head to toe – some big, some small – like all over my body.”
Lopinto turned 19 on Friday and is studying to become a veterinarian at Clemson University. She said she went to Beech Mountain to celebrate her birthday. She was on a ski lift with her best friend when she said she was hit by a geyser spewing from a pipe and fell.
“We just grabbed each other and put our heads down, and I just remember the metal strips flying, and then I flew. I don’t remember anything, I remember opening my eyes on the ground first,” Lopinto said.
Video circulating on social media showed the elevator could be seen stopping and then moving again, with several people being splashed with water in 7-degree weather.
Ivy-Elise Ivey and her boyfriend saw what was going on and decided to jump 25 feet from the chair lift with a few others.
“Everyone was shocked. You wouldn’t have jumped from 25 feet if you didn’t think it was necessary,” Ivey said.
She told Channel Nine that she ended up breaking her arm and breaking her elbow.
“Even with the medication, I was in a lot of pain,” Ivey said. “I can’t dress myself. I can’t shower. I can’t drive. I can’t lift anything, and that hand — my fingers don’t work properly.”
Ivey said she was disappointed with the way the resort handled the issues and wondered why it took so long to shut down elevators and water.
Resort officials said Ivey was not instructed by resort staff to jump off the building.
“After the incident, the Ski Patrol assessed and stabilized her before she left to seek further medical attention. Once we became aware of the problem, we acted as soon as possible to cut off the water and assist the remaining skis This is a very difficult situation for our guests and our staff. We deeply regret the incident and we again apologize to the guests who were adversely affected,” the resort management said in a statement. said in a statement.
Lopinto worries not only for herself but also for her friend, who may have some spinal issues.
“She came back to the hospital today with a compression on her spine and a compression in her back,” Lopinto said. “I don’t want to blame anyone. I just want people to know that this was a bigger incident than I thought.”
Lopinto was one of two patients taken to hospital by ambulance. Ivey was taken to the hospital by his family.
Resort management said its operations and safety teams worked quickly to unload elevators and drain the hydrant system.
“We are confident that, barring unfortunate circumstances, everyone is fine and operations are proceeding as planned,” Beech Resort management said.
(Watch below: Avery County prepares for snowfall)
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