CANTON — After getting a 911 call late Monday afternoon, it took Canton Fire Department paramedics just five minutes to reach a young injured boy at the Blue Hills Ski Area.
“A child had fallen from the ski lift, that was the initial information we got,” Canton Fire Chief Charles Doody said in a telephone interview Tuesday ”We didn’t really have any details until we arrived.”
What they learned from ski patrol members was that a 7-year-old boy riding the chair lift by himself had suddenly plummeted about 40 feet, landing on rocky ground covered with a very thin mantle of machine-made snow.
“The child is expected to make a full recovery,” said State Police spokesman David Procopio in an e-mail Tuesday. “Based on the facts as currently known, we are not undertaking a criminal investigation.”
Doody described the coordinated effort by first responders to save the boy after getting the call at 4:43 p.m.
“People on the lift saw him fall to the ground,” said Doody, who estimated that he fell 35 to 40 feet. “The ski patrol was by his side within minutes.”
The boy, who is from Rockland and was at the ski area with his parents. had taken the ski lift on his own, was wearing a helmet, and was described by State Police as an “experienced skier.”
Doody said the boy was conscious and had “swelling and redness” visible on his head and that “clearly he had struck his head on something.”
“Fortunately he didn’t land directly on his head on rocks or anything like that,” Doody said, “so he was conscious when we took over the care.”
The boy was transported on a Boston Medflight helicopter ambulance as paramedics were concerned about his injuries and about getting him to a trauma center quickly through rush-hour traffic, Doody said.
A landing zone was created on an open field at the Meditech corporate headquarters — the former Prowse Farm — on neighboring Blue Hill River Road. The child was accompanied by his mother to the landing zone and onto the helicopter.
“She was very good, she was as calm as she could be, Doody said. “I think that it helped that, you know, she was with her son and he was conscious and able talk to her. That in and of itself I think was reassuring for a mom.”
Robert Holst, operations manager for Boston Medflight’s base at Mansfield Airport, said the helicopter arrived at the field around 5 p.m. and landed on the helipad at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at 5:17 p.m. The boy was then rushed to Boston’s Children Hospital through an internal walkway.
“She was very concerned as any parent would be,’' Holst said of the boy’s mother. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. I think it went well.”
The ski area is operated by a private contractor under a lease agreement with the Department of Conservation and Recreation. In a statement posted on its website Tuesday night, the company said it examined the two-seat chair lift and found it to be in proper working order. It did not explain how the child fell out of the lift.
“Inspection revealed no identifiable mechanical issues with the double chairlift and it is fully operational. While the investigation is ongoing, there is nothing to suggest there were any mechanical issues that caused or contributed to this unfortunate event,’' the operator said in a statement. “We have reached out to the parents to let them know the thoughts of the entire Blue Hills community are with the young boy and his family.”
The incident is under investigation by the Office of Public Safety and Inspections and the Tramway Board, according to Procopio and a spokeswoman for the Division of Professional Licensure, the parent agency of OPSI.
Doody said he does not know more about what happened to the child but he knows two things.
“Clearly he didn’t land on his head. ...The way that he landed in the spot that he landed definitely helped him kind of survive that type of fall,” Doody said. “The good news is the system worked really well between the initial response of the ski patrol and then activating the 911 system, and then getting care by the paramedics and then he was airborne. It was a pretty quick response by everybody.”