A professional slackliner in the right place at the right time rescued an unconscious friend hanging from a chairlift by his neck.
On Wednesday morning, the unidentified backpack-wearing friend got tangled up as he attempted to get off the lift at Colorado’s Lenawee Mountain, the Arapahoe Basin ski area said in a statement. Workers stopped the lift and dispatched ski patrol to the scene.
In the meantime, Mickey Wilson took matters into his own hands.
Footage released Thursday by the Denver Post shows Wilson sliding about 30 feet across the chairlift cable before using a knife to cut his friend’s backpack, allowing him to drop into the snow below.
“As he tried to get off, his backpack caught, and because he was on the outside of the chairlift, he went around the emergency chairlift shutoff (trigger),” Wilson told the Post. “He was not only caught, he was literally being hung by his neck by his backpack. He was hanging 3-feet, 4-feet below the chair. His feet were maybe only about 10 feet off the snow.”
Wilson, 28, is a part-time ski instructor at the resort, though he was not working at the time. He later posted about the incident on social media, crediting the heroic feat to the skills he learned slacklining — an activity similar to tightrope walking, but with a looser piece or rope or webbing.
Wilson explained that he and others originally tried to build a “human pyramid” to catch their friend, but their attempt was unsuccessful.
“Panic was becoming terror as we realized we were about to watch our friend die in front of our helpless eyes,” Wilson wrote. “Then I had a eureka moment. I realized I could climb the lift tower above the chair and climb onto the cable and shimmy down to him. I knew my slackline experience prepared me perfectly for this so I burst into action.”
Ski patrol arrived as Wilson was trying to free his friend, he said. A patrolman tossed him a knife, which he was able to use to cut his friend’s backpack strap. At that point, ski patrol members revived the man.
Wilson told the Denver Post that it seemed there was nothing that the ski area could have done to prevent the incident, and congratulated staff for “an amazing job of responding” to the situation.
Wilson’s friend was doing well, he wrote on Instagram, and would soon be released from the hospital.