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Thursday, December 18, 2008
Updated: December 19, 12:27 PM ET
Fear Of Falling

Passengers awaited emergency crews for hours wihle suspended in sagging gondola cars.
Whenever I get into a tram or gondola, I feel a subtle apprehension that I'm going to die. The thought rarely occurs to me on a chairlift, but for some reason, rides in suspended cable cars fill my head with visions of Einstein's elevator thought experiment followed by a physically brutal laundry machine simulation that lasts until terrain obstacles either halt my steel enclosure's rapid descent or completely cave in its walls upon me. I shake it off though. Don't be silly, gondolas don't collapse...usually.

A group of skiers had a fortunate escape Tuesday after they were rescued from a stricken gondola that was left dangling over a freezing creek at a ski resort in Canada. Authorities say the gondola tower snapped in half, suspending some cars.

The incident at the Whistler Blackcomb resort, 177 kilometers (110 miles) north of Vancouver, occurred when a support tower for the gondola system snapped in half.

Tyler Noble, a reporter for CNNRadio affiliate CKNW in Vancouver, said at least two gondola cars broke away and hit the ground after the accident, both from relatively low heights near the tower that split and caused the system's heavy cable line to slacken.


Canadian Television News footage showed rescuers walking down a fire truck ladder escorting passengers from one gondola over the frozen water. At least six people were trapped inside that cabin, which was the closest to the base of the mountain, CTV News reported.

Cynthia Jennings told CTV News she was in a car halfway down the mountain when the tower snapped. "All we saw were other cars swinging sideways and we thought we were going to crash to the ground," she told CTV News by cell phone. "I thought the whole cable system was going to come down. I couldn't even breathe."

A film crew was on hand for the cable car catastrophe. See below for gripping video from the incident.