"Scary" fall for boy after dangling from ski chairlift

SKIFIELD bosses have vowed to increase warnings to skiers after a boy was left dangling from a chairlift.

Jack Clulee, 11, was on the Mt Hutt chairlift with his father and uncle yesterday morning when he slipped forward.

Dramatic footage emerged yesterday afternoon of Jack being held up, metres off the ground, by his family as staff and onlookers set up a safety pad below.

The boy was dangling for about a minute before he was let go and landed safely.

Onlookers cheered as soon as Jack stood up and it was clear he was uninjured.

"It was pretty scary. I was just thinking to myself I didn't want to fall because it was quite high up," he said.

Jack, a student at Clearview Primary School in Rolleston, said the accident wouldn't put him off returning to the slopes.

He watched the footage dozens of times yesterday and said he was pretty relieved when onlookers brought out the pad for him to jump down to.

Jack's father Kevin Clulee said they didn't have time to pull the chairlift's safety bar, which sits on the legs to prevent falls, down.

"We were just getting settled when he slipped," Clulee said.

"In hindsight I should have just dropped him when we were still quite close to the ground but then we were far too high."

Mt Hutt Ski Area general manager operations James Urquhart said staff would now be extra-vigilant about reminding those about to hit the slopes of the importance of the safety bar.

Urquhart praised quick-thinking staff who saw Jack was in trouble.

"They were right there, grabbed the tower-mat and the whole thing was over in about a minute and a half," he said.

"They checked he was okay and he just skied off and joined the queue again."

Urquhart said the boy's relatives continued up on the chairlift.

"I haven't even been able to speak to them because they just carried on and have continued skiing."

Footage of the ordeal, from onlooker Tony Kramers, shows the boy dangling for more than a minute, with his family clinging on to him, before he was able to safely fall.

Kramers praised staff for saving Jack from serious injury.

And his wife, Nicky Kramers, said the skifield went silent until the boy landed.

"We heard all these people screaming, looked up to see a child hanging from the chairlift and people on the lift were losing their grip," she said.

Jack's accident at Mt Hutt is the second chairlift mishap for the Canterbury ski field. Last month the Summit 6 chairlift broke down and staff had to use ropes to help 170 skiers abseil to the ground.

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