14 hurt in Wisconsin’s Devil’s Head ski lift accident

14 skiiers were injured Thursday night at the Devil’s Head Resort in Wisconsin when a crowded ski lift malfunctioned.

Initial reports indicate that a full chair lift suddenly stopped and began moving backwards at a high rate of speed. Riders began jumping from the lift, and accounts of what happened during the incident vary. One rider said:

“We were like 20 feet away from getting off the lift and the lift started going backward pretty fast,” said Amir Shadlu, a Madison resident who jumped off the lift. “We saw a lot of people jump from farther and they didn’t even take their boards off, so I don’t know how they made it, but we made it out okay.”

Another who was about to board the chair lift described a flare or spark sort that may have caused the accident:

“Something happened and it looked like it was going backwards. It was like a fire spark everywhere and all the seats are off the track and it’s going backwards and people are jumping, and everyone is like, ‘Just jump, jump, jump,’ and people are jumping off the chair.”

The accident occurred during a promotion last night featuring a discount on lift tickets. Three of the fourteen injured skiiers sustained “serious” but not critical injuries, and three had minor injuries including a fractured ankle. The state Department of Commerce is investigating the incident.