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Ontario man dead, woman critical after gondola crash in Quebec

Officials unclear why drilling machine was operating near a moving gondola
A chairlift is seen at Mont Tremblant resort in Mont-Tremblant, Que., on Sunday, July 16, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

The man killed and the woman seriously injured over the weekend at Quebec’s Mont Tremblant resort were from Ontario, police said Monday.

The two were ejected from a gondola climbing Mont-Tremblant when their cable car struck a drilling machine around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Quebec provincial police Sgt. Audrey-Anne Bilodeau said.

The Quebec coroner’s office identified the victim as Sheldon Johnson, 50; provincial police listed his hometown as Kingston, Ont. The second occupant, a woman in her 50s, was in critical condition in a Montreal hospital on Monday.

Bilodeau said it’s still unclear why a drilling machine was operating near a moving gondola.

“There was a collision between this drill and one of the gondolas in which these two Ontarians in their 50s were occupants,” Bilodeau said. “Investigators will try to determine the circumstances surrounding this event.”

Police say the machine first struck an unoccupied gondola before it collided with the second car, inside which were the two Ontarians.

Representatives from the Mont Tremblant resort, located 105 kilometres northwest of Montreal, and police said the drill belonged to a third party and the incident occurred about halfway up the mountain.

The panoramic gondola takes passengers on a trip to the summit of Mont-Tremblant year-round. A video on the website of the resort operator says the gondola moves slower during the summer and fall to let people take in the view.

Bilodeau said police officers were on site Monday and hoped to meet with the drill operator — a man in his 30s — and other witnesses to the collision. The machine will be inspected in the coming days, Bilodeau said, adding that investigators also hope to speak with the female victim should her health allow it.

A spokeswoman for Quebec’s workplace health and safety board — known as the CNESST — said the gondola will remain out of service while the agency investigates. Cindy L’Heureux said inspectors have been on site since Sunday; the board has ordered that neither the drill nor the gondola be moved from the scene of the collision until further notice.

“(The gondola) is closed until the investigators have obtained information to understand what happened,” L’Heureux said.

Flags at the resort were at half-mast on Monday.

Last December, a gondola crashed at the Mont Sainte-Anne resort, near Quebec City, but no one was injured as the cabin was unoccupied.

READ ALSO: One still in hospital after deadly gondola crash at Quebec’s Mont Tremblant