An Essex County man died at Vail Mountain in Colorado on Thursday.

Jason Varnish, 46, of the Short Hills section of Millburn, died in an incident at the base of a ski lift at the resort's Blue Sky Basin, Eagle County Coroner Karla Bettis said Friday.

Bettis told Vail Daily on Friday night an initial investigation found the chairlift's folding seat was upright instead of in the down position, leaving a gap. Varnish's coat became caught in the chair when he slipped through the gap.

“The coat ended up going around his head and neck area putting his neck in a position that compromised his airway,” Bettis told the Vail Daily.

Vail Mountain spokeswoman Hannah Dixon said the ski patrol performed CPR on a man involved in a "serious incident" before he was taken to Vail Health Hospital, where he died.

“Vail Mountain and the entire Vail Resorts family express our sincere condolences and extend our support to the guest’s family and friends,” Vail Mountain CEO Beth Howard said.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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