Jason Varnish, 46, of Short Hills, New Jersey, died of positional asphyxia Thursday while riding a chairlift in Vail’s Blue Sky basin, according to the Eagle County coroner.
Kara Bettis said the death has been ruled an accident and that toxicology results are still pending.
Bettis, in a text, wrote: “We are still investigating how this whole situation happened. According to our initial investigation, the deceased slipped through the seat of the chair lift and his ski coat got caught up in the chair. The coat ended up going up around his head and neck area putting his neck in a position that compromised his airway.”
Skiers in the area witnessed CPR being performed on Varnish at the base of Chair 37 in Blue Sky Basin. Blue Sky Basin was closed for the day following the incident before re-opening Friday around 11:30 a.m.
This is a developing story that will be updated.