A Stowe Mountain Resort employee died last week while riding on the resort’s zip line as part of his job.
Scott Lewis, 53, of Stowe, died after his harness failed while he was descending one of the lines, ejecting him and slamming him into the anchoring platform, according to the Stowe Police Department, which performed the initial investigation into the incident.
According to Det. Fred Whitcomb, the crash has been deemed an accident and will be more thoroughly investigated by the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Whitcomb said the crash happened shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23. When police and EMS arrived, attempts were made to resuscitate Lewis, but he was declared dead at the scene.
The crash was deemed a mechanical failure, with two points of contact on the harness failing, according to Whitcomb. He said has been interviewing witnesses who were there at the time, but it doesn’t appear anything reckless of “nefarious” contributed to the harness failure.
“The whole town is going to feel this one, and we put our condolences out to the family,” Whitcomb said.
The ZipTour Adventure is billed as one of the largest zip lines in the country, with tandem cables zigzagging two miles over three traverses down the face of Mount Mansfield, reaching speeds of 60 mph.
Sage Tremaine, a former Stowe resident, had ridden the zip line a few weeks ago, with Lewis as her guide.
“This is so shocking and tragic,” Tremaine wrote this week after hearing of Lewis’s death. “Scott was so knowledgeable and kind. I was so scared and second guessing myself as to why the heck I was doing this, and he made me feel secure and safe. In fact, the female guide actually switched me to Scott’s line so he would be the one giving me the signals, as, apparently, he was the most experienced of the group. He seemed very happy and loving what he was doing. I’m very sorry to his family for this terrible loss.”
Jeff Wise, the resort’s communication manager, confirmed that Lewis was had been member of the zipline crew for two years and was on the clock at the time of last week’s crash.
“Stowe Resort and the entire Vail Resorts family extend our deepest sympathy and support to this employee’s family and friends. We are also ensuring our team members are receiving the care and support they need during this time,” Wise said.
The ZipTour was open to the public at the time of the crash, but Wise said it has shut down for now.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we have suspended operations of our zip line course while a thorough investigation is completed,” Wise said.
Wise said the resort is working with the authorities in the investigation.
Calls to the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration were not returned by press time.
“We place the highest value on the safety or our employees and guests,” Wise said. “All zip line courses are inspected regularly and operate in accordance with industry standards.”
Whitcomb said this is the first time Stowe police have been called for a crash on the zip line, which opened to the public in summer 2015.
This story has been updated with more details since its original publish on Sept. 24.