By Audra Streetman

VAIL, Colo. (CBS4) – A New Jersey man died Thursday after falling through a chairlift at Vail’s Blue Sky Basin. Jason Varnish, 46, died of positional asphyxia while riding the Skyline Express Lift, according to the Eagle County Coroner.

Vail Resort (credit: CBS)

Coroner Kara Bettis said the lift’s fold-down seat cushion was not in the lowered position. According to the initial investigation, Varnish slipped through the frame of the chairlift seat and his ski coat became stuck in the chair. Bettis said the coat went around Varnish’s head, putting his neck in a position that compromised his airway.

Vail Mountain Ski Patrol responded to the chairlift and performed CPR and emergency care before Varnish was transported to Vail Health, where he was pronounced deceased.

“Vail Mountain and the entire Vail Resorts family express our sincere condolences and extend our support to the guest’s family and friends,” said Beth Howard, Chief Operating Officer for Vail Mountain.

The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office was called to help with the investigation, which was concluded by the coroner’s office.

“We take all incidents seriously and are conducting a full investigation,” said John Plack, Senior Communications Manager for Vail and Beaver Creek. “The lift has been thoroughly inspected and is operating normally.”

Audra Streetman

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