SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (AP) — A snowboarder spent 15 hours stuck overnight in a ski lift gondola amid freezing temperatures at a Lake Tahoe resort, according to officials and media reports.
Monica Laso boarded the gondola around 5 p.m. Thursday at Heavenly Ski Resort to go down the mountain because she was too tired to snowboard. But it stopped a few minutes later while she was still in the sky, she told KCRA, which first reported the news.
Laso screamed for help, but no one on the ground heard her, the television station reported. She didn’t have her cell phone, so she couldn’t call for help either.
“I screamed desperately until I lost my voice,” Laso told KCRA in a Spanish-language interview.
She spent the night rubbing her hands and feet to combat the cold. The minimum temperature overnight was 23 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Laso’s friends reported her missing to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, but she wasn’t found until Friday morning, when the gondola restarted for the day and crews realized she was there overnight, the television station reported.
The ski resort, located on the southeastern shore of the lake near the California-Nevada border, is investigating “very seriously” how Laso became trapped.
“The safety and well-being of our guests is our top priority at Heavenly Mountain Resort,” Tom Fortune, the resort’s vice president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.
The sheriff’s office did not respond to a request for comment Saturday.
Kim George, battalion chief and spokeswoman for the South Lake Tahoe Fire Department, told The Associated Press that sheriff’s deputies requested their paramedics around 8:30 a.m. Friday after Laso was found.
She was responsive and alert and refused to be taken to the hospital, George said.
In his 23 years with the fire department, “we’ve never responded to anything like this,” George said. “I’m very curious to hear the story.”