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Los Angles Man Killed in Lake Tahoe Chair Lift Accident

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Mark Alan Dickson, 51, was killed and his wife, Rebecca Gonzaga, 47, suffered serious personal injury in a ride accident on August 31, 2009 involving the Heavenly Lake Tahoe’s Tamarack Express Chair. According to a news report in the Sacramento Bee, the accident happened after a line from a nearby lift tangled with the line the couple were on and struck their chair knocking Dickson out and on to the rocks 50 feet below. Dickson sustained fatal injuries and Gonzaga, who managed to stay in the chair, suffered a leg injury. Preliminary investigations show that the fatal accident was the result of a malfunction with part of the zip line coming in contact with the chair lift.

Fatal Ski Lift Accident

El Dorado County Sheriff’s officials said the chair was being ridden downhill by the couple when it was upended. Gonzaga was able to hang on because her leg became entangled in the cable. Officials say they are puzzled as to how the line could have become entangled with the chair. But they say there may have been enough slack in the rope that allowed it to swing over and catch on to the chair lift occupied by Dickson and Gonzaga.

My heart goes out to Gonzaga who saw her husband plunge to his death. I offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Dickson. Please keep Gonzaga in your prayers as she recovers from her injuries and grieves for her husband.

Liability in Personal Injury Cases

This chair lift ride will reportedly, now be investigated by a team that specializes in chair lift and tram accidents. Ski lifts have relatively simple mechanisms with established technology and high degree of safety. However, if we take into consideration, the number of skiers who annually use the lifts especially in popular ski destinations such as Lake Tahoe, it is not surprising that wear-and-tear, defective products, design defects and mechanical malfunctions due to lack of maintenance can cause devastating accidents like this one. Ski operators are required under law to operate their lifts with the highest degree of care. Liability issues in ski lift accidents involve the question of who is to be held responsible. Depending on the results of the investigation, a ski area operator, maintenance contractor or a manufacturer could be held liable.

Dickson’s family would be well-advised to consult with a reputed California personal injury lawyer who has a successful track record with wrongful death lawsuits. In cases where negligence or wrongdoing is involved victims’ families may file wrongful death claims seeking compensation to cover funeral expenses, loss of earnings, loss of love and companionship and other related damages.

The Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys is not representing any of the parties mentioned in this article at the time the article was posted. Our source for the facts is cited in the article. If you were involved in this incident or a similar incident and have questions as to your rights and options, please contact us or another reputable law firm. Do not act solely upon the information provided herein. Get a consultation. Most of the best law firms will provide accident victims a free consultation.

We cannot fully inform any party or family member about their rights, options or the economic viability of any claim for compensation without a full investigation and consultation. We will not be conducting an investigation into this matter unless we are retained by a party. We will provide a free, confidential consultation to any, not at fault, person named in this article. The free consultation offer extends to family members as well.

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  • Anna Ervin

    My husband and myself were on top of Heavenly when this unfortunate accident occured. If Mrs. Gonzaga would like for us to give a statement as to what we heard and saw we would be happy to assist her.

  • John Bisnar

    I have written this chair lift about 50 times myself. Heavenly Valley is one of my family’s frequently visited ski resorts because we have a Marriott time share at the bottom of the gondola. The Tamarack chair is the gateway from the gondola to the upper ski runs.

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