CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine — A chair lift derailed in high winds at Maine's tallest ski mountain Tuesday, sending skiers plummeting as far as 30 feet to the slope below and injuring several people.
The Sugarloaf resort in Carrabassett Valley, about 120 miles north of Portland, said on its Facebook page that there were about eight injuries and that its patrols were evacuating the lift.
..Most of the injuries appear to be minor, but the resort is still assessing the situation, Sugarloaf marketing director Brad Larsen told NBC News.
All the injured were treated and taken to hospitals. About 220 people were on the lift at the time.
Jay Marshall, who was on a lift next to the broken one, told The Associated Press that both lifts stopped, then restarted. Almost immediately he saw a problem, then heard screams.
"The lift started again. I looked to my left and could see the cable bouncing up and down. I could see that the cable had come off the (track wheels)," he said.
The spot where the cable jumped its track was about 50 feet above the snow. Some skiers tumbled from their chairs, he said.
."Once the thing started bouncing up and down beside me, I stopped looking. I didn't want to see it, honestly," Marshall said. "It was terrifying."
Gideon Hacker, a skier from Princeton, N.J., said he saw at least one person taken off the mountain in a gurney pulled by a snowmobile. He said Sugarloaf workers used a pulley device to lower skiers to safety.
The resort's website said it received between 20 and 22 inches of snow in this week's East Coast blizzard.
Jill Gray, a spokeswoman for Franklin Memorial Hospital about in Farmington, about 45 miles from the mountain, said that one person was taken there and immediately on to Maine Medical Center in Portland.
Another person was being treated in Franklin's emergency room, she said, and the hospital expected to receive five more patients. She did not give details on the injuries.
At the time of the accident, high winds were buffeting Maine a day after a blizzard swept across the region.
The National Weather Service has no wind sensors near Sugarloaf. But a weather balloon launched Tuesday morning in Gray, in southern Maine, showed winds of 40 mph at 1,000 feet, a weather service meteorologist.
At 4,237 feet, Sugarloaf is Maine's second-highest mountain after Mount Katahdin.