The company that has been the target of two multimillion-dollar attacks on its gondola in Squamish, B.C., has doubled the reward to $500,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
The announcement came Wednesday as RCMP released a photo of a suspect who may have cut the cable for the Sea to Sky Gondola twice, in 2019 and 2020.
Police also released a video clip showing a security guard walking underneath the cable just a few seconds before it was cut in September 2020, with sparks flying in the background as the cable and gondola cars crash down the mountain.
The additional clues and increased reward came two years to the day that the cable was cut for the second time, just months after the tourist attraction had replaced the damaged infrastructure and reopened following the first act of vandalism.
The gondola, which opened in 2014, takes people 885 metres above sea level, offering an expansive view of Howe Sound, just north of Vancouver, and connects to a series of hiking trails, viewing platforms and a suspension bridge.
RCMP Sgt. Chris Manseau told a news conference investigators believe it could have been the same person who severed the cable both times, sending the gondola’s cabins crashing to the ground, but it’s possible others were involved.
“All options are open at this time,” he said of the number of perpetrators.
Police believe the suspect is very physically fit, familiar with the area and knew exactly which tools to use to cut the cable without risking personal injury, he said.
The suspect had to climb one of the towers holding up the cable in order to cut it, Manseau said.
The towers stretch from the base of the gondola to the top at 885 metres above sea level and they’re located in steep, rocky terrain.
The black-and-white thermal image shows an unidentifiable figure facing away from the camera, standing on or near the tower that holds up the gondola cable.
The video shows the security guard patrolling the area walking under the gondola cable around five to seven seconds before the cable was cut, Manseau said.
“We’re hoping that showing the video will show how close this person was to being killed and will force someone with information, because we know that there is someone out there with information, to come forward and identify a suspect.”
The suspect would face a charge of mischief endangering life, Manseau said.
Investigators have followed more than 100 tips and interviewed more than 70 people as they continue to chase a possible motive, he said.
Kirby Brown, the gondola’s general manager, said they’ve doubled the reward in hopes of pushing anyone with information about the crimes to come forward.
The direct cost of the damage in both incidents topped $10-million, he said, noting the figure doesn’t factor in benefits the attraction provides to the local economy that were lost when it was twice forced to close and replace its gondola infrastructure.
Brown said the company was insured for the damage.
They have since adopted industry-leading security measures, he added.