Sandia Peak tramway officials address tramway incident

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Sunday, Sandia Peak tram officials say they’d never seen conditions like those during Friday night’s storm, and now they’re trying to figure out how they can avoid this happening again.

This caught them off guard and they say they’re always monitoring the weather, but they could not have foreseen these specific conditions on Friday night, which caused icing to happen very quickly.

"We had never seen icing form that quickly, that was what was unique about Friday evening – a lot of humidity, moisture in the air, warmer temperatures down low, but all of that, we had not seen icing that quickly ever in my time here,” said Michael Donovan, Sandia Peak Tramway general manager.

Company officials closed the restaurant – Ten-3 – earlier than normal because of the weather and got the customers out of there.

"All of the conditions were well within our operating parameters to bring our guests and well as our employees down safely,” said Donovan.

KOB 4 Reporter Tommy Lopez: Was there a thought to actually not have those employees get on? Was there a debate about whether it was safe enough at that stage?

Donovan: “There was not.”

KOB 4 Reporter Tommy Lopez: Are there any of your protocols to re-evaluate after this?

Donovan: "We’ll definitely be evaluating the weather trends and what we were seeing before. That’s already started happening internally with myself and our management team, to look at trends, how those extreme icing conditions happened that quickly, and we will be doing everything we can in the future to avoid operations anywhere near those parameters."

He points out situations like what we saw yesterday – with people needing to rappell and fly down on a helicopter after being stranded for 15 hours – are rare for the tram.

"Our safety record speaks for itself. We’ve not had any incidents like this, and, knock on wood, I hope to not have anymore."