There are plenty of dangerous things about skiing down a mountain. But you wouldn’t think that getting up the mountain could also be dangerous.
But five teenage boys are being called heroes after they saved an 8-year-old boy who plummeted from a ski lift at Grouse Mountain in Vancouver.
The boy started to slip from the lift almost as soon as it started to rise.
But by then, he and his father were hanging 20 feet above the ground. The boy’s father desperately tried to hold on to him but he was already dangling. They yelled back at the lift operator but the loading area was playing music, drowning out their cries for help.
“There was a man with a kid struggling to keep the kid in the chair and yelling for the operator to stop the chair but the operator didn’t hear because the music was too loud,” said Carolina Akoglu, a skier who witnessed the event. “And the chair kept going up, and up, and up.”
The boy was starting to slip from his father’s grip when five teenage boys saw the situation.
They were there to enjoy the slopes but that didn’t stop them from springing into action.
“I pointed to the net there, I said, ‘You go grab the net’,” said James MacDonald, one of the boys. “And me and Josh would go run and get this padding.”
All five of the boys were either 13 or 14 but they showed maturity and presence of mind that was more typical of grown adults.
Rushing to grab one of the ski nets used to guide skiers down the mountain, they held it under the boy to make a safe place to catch him.
“I yelled up and I said, ‘OK, you need to take your skis off because if you fall with your skis on, it’s probably going to be worse,’” said Gabriel Nielsen. “And then at one point, we were just, ‘OK, you just need to trust us, you just need to drop.’”
The boy obeyed, throwing his skis down.
Then his father released his hand. Screams from witnesses went up as he fell but the teens were able to catch him in their net — dazed but completely unhurt.
The mayor said that the boys were creative, courageous, and heroic. He’s planning on honoring them publicly with certificates of appreciation.
The reason the boy started to fall was because of an issue when he first got on.
Cam Surine, a member of Technical Safety BC, urged skiers to let the lift operator know if they feel unsafe when getting on the lift. The resort is also investigating the reasons behind the incident to see how they can be avoided in the future.
Meanwhile, the boys have also received a year-long extension on their seasonal passes, a gesture of appreciation from the staff at Grouse Mountain. The president of the resort also plans to meet with them to thank them personally.
But the teens are downplaying their own actions, saying it was just a matter of seeing someone in need and doing what was necessary.
“It was an instinct almost,” said James MacDonald. “You locked onto a zone, like, ‘OK, this needs to be done’.”
The whole incident was caught on video by a skier in the next chair lift. Witnesses were horrified by the incident but broke into cheers when the boy was caught safely on the ground. Even the boys themselves lifted their fists in triumph.
As for the boy and his father, they’re now safely back at home, thanks to the quick thinking of five resourceful teens.
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