Châtel english summary (interim report)
On 23 February 2011, on the “Echo alpin” chair lift in the Châtel (Haute-Savoie) ski area, an adolescent of British nationality ended up dangling over the abyss, hanging from his seat by a strap on his rucksack, which had just passed the arrival terminal and had started back towards the departure terminal. He lost consciousness before the rescuers could bring him down to the ground and died in hospital 22 days later.
The first findings of the investigation showed that the adolescent did not manage to dismount from his seat in the unloading area. This occurred without the staff responsible for monitoring the dismounting process noticing this fact and without the “aborted dismount” technical mechanism designed to detect the presence of users that remain in their seats, stopping the system.
Therefore, certain conditions were not met in order to ensure the optimal operation of this system. In addition, not all chair lifts are equipped with such a mechanism.
Without awaiting the conclusions of the investigation, and to prevent a repeat of similar accidents, BEA-TT, in application of article L. 1621-20 of the French Transportation Code, deemed it necessary to send three safety recommendations to the DGITM and STRMTG with a view to testing the efficiency of the aborted dismount systems installed on existing chair lifts before the 2011-2012 operating season, fitting this technology to any chairs not yet equipped with such a system before this operating season if at all possible, and organising daily checks of the proper operation of these devices.