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Squaw Valley cable car operator Dan Gutowsky was daydreaming while steering the red tram along a winding mountain path on April 13, 1978, when radio dispatches began coming in reporting four deaths and over 12 severe injuries caused when its support cables became disconnected and became unmoored from each other.
The tram plummeted 75 feet to the ground, bouncing like a yo-yo before finally coming to rest at its midpoint. Gutowsky and 44 passengers were thrown from their cars into various directions before being taken by snowmobiles and cats to Squaw Valley base where rescue helicopters would transport them either to Tahoe/Truckee Medical Center 12 miles away, or Washoe Medical Center in Reno 45 miles away for medical attention.
Alterra Mountain Co. of Denver owns both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows ski resorts and plans to expand them with hotels, restaurants and a rollercoaster. On Tuesday, a panel of judges granted Sierra Watch’s appeal of county approval of parts of these development plans for approval.