Sea to Sky Gondola cable was cut: RCMP preliminary investigation
Ian Holliday, CTV News Vancouver
Published Saturday, August 10, 2019 11:51AM PDT
Last Updated Sunday, August 11, 2019 6:12AM PDT
Police in Squamish say their preliminary investigation into the collapse of the Sea to Sky Gondola early Saturday morning suggests that the cable on the gondola was cut.
Squamish RCMP Const. Ashley MacKay told reporters Saturday afternoon that there did not appear to be any natural factors that could have led to the collapse.
"There appears to be no environmental mechanism for the reason," MacKay said. "As such, we believe that the cable was cut."
Officers and gondola staff are currently attempting to walk the length of the gondola to assess the damage and confirm their preliminary assessment.
Officials at the scene told CTV News a security guard heard a loud crash around 4:30 a.m.
The lift's haul rope had fallen, making it inoperable. Numerous cars fell, landing in trees and on rocks in the gondola's path.
No guests or gondola staff were injured in the collapse. The gondola wasn't operating at the time of the crash, said spokesperson Ken Bailey.
"It is what we would term a catastrophic failure of the rope," Bailey said. "All the towers are intact and so it really is the haul rope that's at issue."
Officers from Squamish RCMP could be seen in the parking lot, which was closed to vehicles Saturday morning.
A post on the Sea to Sky Gondola website said it would be closed for "the foreseeable future" and directed inquiries to the Squamish RCMP.
Bailey said the amount of time the gondola is closed will depend on how long the investigation takes.
"We don't know how long it's going to take us to figure out the cause," Bailey said. "Certainly it's a significant repair, but we have the best people on the planet to do that, so as soon as we can begin the repair phase, we anticipate that we'd be up and running quite quickly."
While the gondola is closed, the staff will be working with people who had booked weddings and other private events at the site to find alternate venues, Bailey said.
Police are working with the Sea to Sky Gondola as well as Worksafe BC and Technical Safety BC on their investigation, MacKay said.
Anyone with information about the incident or who was in the area between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. is asked to contact the Squamish RCMP at 604-892-6100 or to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 to report anonymously.
"We are seeking potential witnesses or anyone who was in the area," MacKay said. "I would just like to remind people that no information is too small and any information could assist in the investigation."
The facility hosted concerts on Thursday night and Friday night, drawing hundreds of people to the gondola's Summit Lodge both evenings.
The Sea to Sky Gondola officially opened in May 2014 and when in operation, it takes around 10 minutes to reach an elevation of 885 metres above Howe Sound. Bailey said there are a total of 30 cabins on the line.
Between 1,500 and 3,000 guests visit the gondola each day during the summer season, Bailey said.
Each cabin holds up to eight people.
With files from the Canadian Press