17-Year-Old Boy Dies After Falling at Least 20 Feet from Chairlift at Poconos Ski Resort
A high school junior from New Jersey was confirmed dead on New Year’s Day after he fell at least 20 feet from a chairlift while skiing at Blue Mountain Resort in the Poconos, multiple outlets confirm.
Connor Golembiewski, 17, of Flemington, New Jersey, fell around 11:30 a.m. local time, the county coroner told local outlet NJ.com. He was then rushed to St. Luke’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead from multiple blunt force trauma. The death was ruled accidental.
Another local outlet, WFMZ, reported that Golembiewski landed on rocks and he sustained injuries to his head, back and ribs.
The Carbon County Coroner’s office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Golembiewski’s father Michael Golembiewski told PEOPLE in a statement that the family didn’t know what happened to cause the teen to fall.
“Connor is an awesome young man,” the statement said. “Everyone he met loved him and he loved them. He loved hockey and skiing and so much more. He loved to teach younger players how to play hockey and just wanted to play the game.”
Continued the statement, “He will be missed by so many people and especially my wife, daughter, son and me.”
It is unclear if Golembiewski was using the bar to hold himself in at the time of the fall, reps for the resort said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
“This was a terrible tragic accident and our hearts go out to the family,” the statement read. “Immediately after the incident the lift was inspected and found to be in good operating order with no mechanical defects … At the lifts – attendants do recommend to guests to ride the chairlift with the bar down … Again, this was a terrible accident and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
According to the statement, the resort will implement a new safety training program next week, including chair simulation and rewards for using the lift restraint.
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According to LehighValleyLive.com, the teen attended Hunterdon Central Regional High School and played for the New Jersey Renegades Hockey Club, which posted a statement about his death on its Facebook page.
“The NJ Renegades mourn the tragic loss of one of their players, Connor Golembiewski, who passed away tragically on New Years Day in a skiing accident,” it read. “Connor was a Renegade starting at the age of 9 playing squirts thru bantams with the Renegades. He was a loyal, hardworking, respectful player that gave his all every time he came to the rink. We wish our deepest sympathies and condolences to his family during this difficult time.”
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Golembiewski’s coach, Cliff Graziano, mourned his death on Facebook, as well.
“I had the privilege to coach Connor since the age of 8,” he wrote. “I was just on the ice with him 2 days ago doing a lesson with him and his friends. I often tell my players that I’m their coach and we’ll be friends when they are done playing for me. Yesterday I lost a friend. This is incredibly difficult to accept and understand.”
According to NJ.com, this is the third death that’s happened at the resort within the past year. One was caused by a collision between two skiers and the other from a snowboarding accident.