Several skiers hurt after hydrant burst at Beech Mountain Resort

BEECH MOUNTAIN, N.C. — Several people were hurt at Beech Mountain Resort in Avery County when a damaged hydrant sprayed a blast of water onto skiers riding above on a lift, prompting several to jump.

Management at the ski resort said a guest skied into the water and air hydrant on Friday while snowmaking operations were underway. Video circulating on social media showed skiers on the chair lift getting hit by blasts of water.

The resort said in a statement that two people were taken to an area hospital by Avery County emergency medical workers with what appeared to be injuries that were not life-threatening. The person who skied into the hydrant was not injured.

“As soon as we became aware of the problem, our operations and safety team took action as quickly as possible to drain the system safely and assist the remaining skiers in disembarking at the top of the lift,” resort management said in a statement.

Channel 9′s Glenn Counts spoke to two women who recounted how terrifying the incident was.

“I’m in quite a bit of pain, mainly on my left side of my body,” said Emma Lopinto. “I have bruises from head to toe -- some big, some small -- like all over my body.”

Lopinto turned 19 on Friday and is studying to be a veterinarian at Clemson University. She said she went to Beech Mountain to celebrate her birthday. She was up on the ski lift with her best friend when she said she was hit by the geyser of water that erupted from a pipe, and fell.

“We just grabbed each other and ducked our head and all I remember is the metal bar flying up and then me flying up. I don’t remember anything and I remember opening my eyes belly first on the ground,” Lopinto said.

Video circulating on social media showed the lift can be seen stopping and then moving again, with several people getting sprayed by water in 7-degree weather.

Ivy-Elise Ivey and her boyfriend could see what was happening and decided to jump 25 feet from their lift chair, along with several others.

“Everyone was in shock. You’re not going to jump from 25 feet if you don’t think you have to,” Ivey said.

She told Channel 9 she ended up breaking her arm, fracturing it around her elbow.

“I’m in some serious pain, even with the medicine,” Ivey said. “I can’t dress myself. I can’t shower. I can’t drive. I can’t lift anything, and that hand -- my fingers aren’t working right.”

Ivey said she’s disappointed with how the resort handled the issues and wonders why it took so long to shut off the lift and turn off the water.

Resort officials said that Ivey was not instructed to jump by resort staff.

“After the incident, she was evaluated and stabilized by ski patrol before she left to seek further medical attention. As soon as we became aware of the problem, we took action as quickly as possible to shut off the water and assist the remaining skiers in disembarking at the top of the lift. This was a very difficult situation for both our guests and our staff. We very much regret that the incident occurred and we again offer our apologies to the guests that were adversely affected,” the resort’s management said in a statement.

Lopinto is worried not only about herself but also her friend, who may have suffered some spinal issues.

“She went back into the hospital today for compression to her spine, on her back,” Lopinto said. “I don’t want to put blame on anyone. I just want people to know it was a more serious event than I feel like is being said.”

Lopinto is one of two patients who were taken to the hospital by ambulance. Ivey was taken to the hospital by her family.

Resort management said its operations and safety team worked quickly to unload the lift and drain the hydrant system.

“We believe everyone is OK outside of the unfortunate situation and operations are on a regular schedule,” Beech Mountain Resort management said.

(WATCH BELOW: Avery County prepares for snow)