Coroner Clarifies Circumstances of Death of NJ Man on Vail Chairlift

The man's death has been ruled an accident, a local outlet reported

Ski chairlift
Daniel Brenner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Eagle County coroner says a skier who died in an accident on a chairlift at Vail did not fall through a gap in the seat as was previously reported.

Coroner Kara Bettis says 46-year-old Jason Varnish died of “positional asphyxia" when he became entangled by his clothing after it became caught in a part of the chairlift. She says the Short Hills, New Jersey man could not breathe because his coat had tightened around his chest and abdominal area.

The Vail Daily reports his death has been ruled an accident.

An Eagle County news release says at least one witness told investigators the chairlift seat was up when Varnish and a companion tried to load in Vail's Blue Sky Basin on Feb. 13.

Blue Sky Basin was closed for about 24 hours after the accident and reopened the following day.

“We take all incidents seriously and are conducting a full investigation,” Vail Resorts said in a statement shortly after the death. “The lift has been thoroughly inspected and is operating normally.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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