NZSki has made changes to its new $5 million chairlift at Coronet Peak following an incident that left a Queenstown mum with a badly injured neck.
Janine Learmonth, 32, may need surgery after becoming trapped face-down by the heavy mechanical safety bar on a seat of the Meadows Express quad lift on June 13. The incident has sparked a Department of Labour investigation.
NZSki boss James Coddington says Leitner-Poma manufacturers have spent the last week testing “every single part” of the lift.
Tests proved the required manufacturing standards were being met, but the company has decided to take all tension off the automatic safety bar anyway, he says.
“You can hold it up with one finger.
“It’s well under what [the manufacturers] would like it to be but it’s during the process of our education because it is a new chairlift and there are new safety features.
“We want to ensure we can educate people appropriately and ensure safe passage.”
NZSki is also banning people from wearing backpacks on the lift.
Coddington’s unsure if the changes will become permanent – that’ll be reviewed during the season.
Learmonth, a mum-of-two and business owner, says she’s angry with NZSki’s response to her plight and plans to seek legal advice to claim compensation for medical bills, childcare and potential loss of income not covered by ACC.
“I feel like they’ve abandoned me and left me out to dry,” she says after meeting Coddington and Coronet Peak ski area manager Hamish McCrostie last week.
“They don’t want to accept responsibility so they’ve put it in the too-hard basket. It’s really appalling.”
Coddington: “We’re very concerned that she’s hurt.
“Once the investigation is complete we’ll meet with her again to share all the outcomes of that investigation. But it’s very premature to be talking about compensation or anything along those lines until the investigation is