Investigation: Stowe zip line death was preventable
STOWE, Vt. (WCAX) - The Stowe zip line course will be closed this summer after state investigators say an employee’s death was preventable.
Last September, Stowe Zip Tour Adventure employee Scott Lewis died after hitting an anchoring platform. Investigators found that a component of the lanyard supporting Lewis had broken in two and that it had not been properly inspected or swapped out as the manufacturer recommends. GPS data also shows that Lewis was traveling at over 80 mph. Stowe Mountain Resort was fined more than $27,000 for two safety violations.
In a statement to WCAX, the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration said: “[Their] investigation found that this workplace fatality, like other incidents in Vermont, was a preventable loss felt by all involved. VOSHA along with the Department of Labor will continue to provide information and resources about safety and health to ensure all workplaces are the safest they can be.”
In the citation, the state also found that the resort failed to provide training to each employee required to use the equipment. Ziplining is not regulated by the state and it’s up to individual companies to inspect their own equipment
Stowe Mountain Resort’s parent company, Vail Resorts, said in a statement: “We have been and continue to work with the Vermont authorities concerning this accident. Safety is our highest priority, and Stowe Resort and the entire Vail Resorts family extend our deepest sympathy and support to this employee’s family and friends.” They add that the zip line course is closed right now.
Department of Labor officials say Stowe and Vail are covered as a result of workers’ compensation laws and that the family can not file a lawsuit. However, there is a possibility of a lawsuit being filed against the equipment manufacturer.
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