The Squamish RCMP and the Sea to Sky Gondola LP are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the individual(s) responsible for the damage to the Sea to Sky Gondola on September 14 as well as the prior incident on August 10, 2019.
At 4 am on September 14, Squamish RCMP responded to a call from the Sea to Sky Gondola security team, who reported that a line to the gondola had been cut and had crashed into the mountain. Squamish RCMP attended, and the investigation was taken over by the Sea to Sky General Investigations Section (GIS).
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On Friday, the company announced it is offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the incidents. Information can be provided directly to police, to the Police Gondola Information Line at 1-604-892-6122, or through the Police Gondola email. Tips can also be left anonymously online.
Same incident last August
The attraction near Squamish had its grand reopening in early February 2020 after a six-month-long rebuild. The same incident occurred on August 10, 2019.
Following the first incident last year, operators installed a new cable, replaced all 30 cabins, and repaired the towers damaged from the force of the snap. The reconstruction cost was covered by insurance.
Despite the new security measures following last year’s incident, vandals were able to cut the line again.
The culprits responsible for the 2019 incident have not been caught.
Gondola failures from design are extremely rare, never mind collapses from an act of vandalism.
The minimum breaking load of the original 4.8-km-long haul cable — 52 mm in diameter with six steel wire ropes and a solid plastic core — was 2,2126 kN. To put that in perspective, the standard thrust of each engine of a Boeing 747 aircraft is about 300 kN.
“[The] majority of the haul rope wires were substantially cut prior to complete failure of the wire rope,” reads the 2019 report.
“Many individual wires failed in tension as the cutting action progressed. As the load was redistributed, the final remaining portions of the last two (of six) wire strands became overloaded and failed in tension, resulting in full separation of the haul rope… The final number of individual wires that remained prior to the final strands failing in tension overload is commensurate with the design safety margin.”
In the middle of March, just over a month after its reconstruction reopening, the gondola was forced to shutter again due to COVID-19. It reopened to the public in late May with new health safety measures.
With this most recent incident, Squamish RCMP said they are working “diligently” on both investigations, and “in order to ensure the integrity of the investigation,” they are unable to release further details at this time.
They are, however, urging anyone with video footage of the Sea to Sky Highway, north and south of the gondola location from September 13 at 8 pm to September 14 at 2 pm to contact police. Police said video evidence can be in the form of dashcam, house surveillance, video from vehicle cameras, or business footage.
If you do have information on this investigation, please contact the Police Gondola Information phone line: 604-892-6122 or email: [email protected]. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit a tip online at www.solvecrime.ca
With files from Kenneth Chan