Woman says she was trapped in California snow resort gondola for 15 hours

An investigation was underway after a visitor said she was stranded in a snow resort gondola overnight in South Lake Tahoe, California.

Monica Laso was at Heavenly Mountain Resort with friends Thursday when she became tired and asked a worker for directions to a gondola that would take her to the base, she said in an interview with NBC affiliate KCRA of Sacramento.

The worker guided her to a gondola, she said, with a few minutes to spare before 5 p.m., but when she got in and started her trip down, it stopped, stranding her for 15 hours.

She didn’t have her phone, so she yelled for help, she told the station, but there was no response.

“I screamed desperately until I lost my voice,” Laso said.

Her friends, meanwhile, reported her missing to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office. Laso said she was only safely on the ground again when the gondola started running anew Friday morning.

“I felt very frustrated,” she told KCRA.

Temperatures in the area have been in the mid-20s overnight, according to National Weather Service data. Laso said she kept warm by rubbing her hands and feet together.

Kim George, fire marshal at the South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue Department, said by email that deputies reached the woman in the morning and contacted her agency.

First responders from the South Lake Tahoe department responded to the base of the gondola at 8:28 a.m., George said. Laso “was assessed and refused transport,” she said.

Heavenly Mountain Resort is investigating what happened, said Tom Fortune, its vice president and chief operating officer. “The safety and wellbeing of our guests is our top priority at Heavenly Mountain Resort,” he said in a statement.

The 2.4-mile gondola is normally scheduled to run from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., according to the resort’s website and the website of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. It wasn’t clear why it would be running just before 9 a.m. or 5 p.m.

Fortune said in a statement that the resort wants to get to the bottom of the incident. “We are investigating this situation with the utmost seriousness,” he said.

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