Skier suffocates to death after getting caught on chairlift in Vail

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VAIL, Colo. (KKTV) - A skier was asphyxiated following a bizarre accident on a lift at Vail Ski Resort.

The 46-year-old was reportedly getting onto Vail's Skyline Express lift Thursday when he slipped through a gap in the seat. Tragically, authorities say his coat got caught when he slipped through and then wrapped around his neck.

“The coat ended up going up around his head and neck area putting his neck in a position that compromised his airway," Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis told local paper Vail Daily, adding that the office was still investigating how the incident happened.

The deceased has been identified as Jason Varnish of Short Hills, New Jersey.

According to witness accounts, the chairlift's seat was upright, leaving a gap that a rider could fall through if they didn't notice, the Vail Daily reports. The seats are supposed to be folded down when riders sit down.

Fellow skiers tried to perform CPR on Varnish but were unable to resuscitate him.

The Vail Daily reports a similar incident happened on the same chairlift about a decade ago, when a man ended up suspended upside down and pantless. A witness at the time said the skier had also fallen through the gap in the seat.