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Alarm system failed when Sea to Sky Gondola cable was cut 2nd time, claims lawsuit

Gondola business is suing B.C. security firm it hired after first cable cutting incident
The Sea to Sky gondola had its main cable cut in the early morning of Sept. 14, 2020. (Photo courtesy of BC RCMP)

The owners of the Sea to Sky Gondola hired a security firm after its main cable was purposefully severed in 2019, but when it happened for a second time the following year the new alarm system didn’t work.

This is what the gondola business claims in a lawsuit filed Monday (Sept. 15) against B.C. security company Unified Systems.

Sea to Sky Gondola says it hired Unified Systems in January 2020 to implement an alarm system that would run 24/7 and go off if an unauthorized person approached and ascended one of the tourist attraction’s towers. The year earlier in August, someone did just that, completing the criminal act by cutting the gondola’s main cable and sending 30 cabins crashing to the ground. No one was hurt but repair costs were estimated to be in the millions.

Unified Systems completed installing the new system in February 2020, with the shared understanding that it would work around-the-clock regardless of adverse weather conditions, according to the lawsuit. Just half a year later though around 4 a.m. Sept. 14, someone again ascended one of the gondola’s tower ladders and snipped its main cable.

Sea to Sky Gondola says the alarm system wasn’t working, and claims they may have been able to stop the perpetrator if it had been. The business accuses Unified Security of breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, causation and failure to warn.

In regards to the last allegation, the lawsuit suggests the alarm system had no power at the time it reportedly failed. Sea to Sky Gondola says Unified Security knew or should have known that the system lacked sufficient power sources or supply, was prone to ceasing to operate and couldn’t detect unauthorized access.

None of the allegations have been proven in court, and Unified Security has not filed a response to the claim as of publication.

The lawsuit doesn’t specify a specific amount sought, but says the gondola business has suffered from damage and destruction of property and income loss. The gondola was closed for about five months after the 2019 incident, and nine months after the 2020 one.

In a media briefing on the criminal investigation into the cable cutter on Wednesday (Sept. 14), the gondola’s general manager Kirby Brown said damage costs between the 2019 and 2020 incidents amounted to more than $10 million.

READ ALSO: Cutting Sea to Sky Gondola cable could have ‘seriously hurt or killed’ someone: report

Infrared image released of suspect

Police believe the same person is responsible for both incidents and say if they are caught they will face recommended charges of mischief and mischief endangering life.

BC RCMP released an infrared image of the suspect Wednesday, along with a brief description of who they could be.

“Our investigators believe the suspect is extremely fit, knew the area well, and had specific knowledge about what tools to use in order to cut the cable in such a way that it would cause catastrophic damage to the gondola while protecting the suspect from harm,” RCMP Sgt. Chris Manseau said in a news release.

Police also released security footage taken on the night of the second incident, which shows a guard monitoring the grounds with a flashlight shortly before the cable was cut and cabins fell.

The reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of the suspect is now at $500,000.

READ ALSO: Police release thermal image of suspect who cut Sea to Sky Gondola cable

A thermal image shows the person police believe cut cables on the Sea to Sky gondola in both 2019 and 2020. It was released, along with a new reward for information, on Sept. 14. (Photo courtesy of BC RCMP)
A thermal image shows the person police believe cut cables on the Sea to Sky gondola in both 2019 and 2020. It was released, along with a new reward for information, on Sept. 14. (Photo courtesy of BC RCMP)


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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media.
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