Park guests and employees at Six Flags Great Escape park in upstate NY became unlikely heroes when they stepped in to rescue a teenage girl dangling from a gondola ride, working together to catch her as she fell 25 feet into their arms.
The State Department of Labor cleared it for operation, but the park is keeping it closed while they do an internal review. The person sitting next to her indicated that the girl was being choked by the ride's safety bar.
The ski lift-style gondolas, one of the oldest rides in a park that opened in 1954 as Story Town, offer riders a slow-moving view of other attractions. She lets go, strikes a tree limb on the way down, and is caught by people in the crowd. In a statement, officers told how one of the men who caught her suffered a back injury doing so.
Park staff stopped the ride after finding out a passenger was in distress.
"No-one wants to put himself underneath a body like that, but I couldn't stand by and watch". Video posted online of the accident shows her dangling from the green gondola as a crowd gathers below her, before she loses her grip and falls.
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The provincial government has launched the highest level of disaster relief response and sent rescue teams to the site. As of last night, only three people - a couple and their month-old baby - had been rescued from the disaster site.
Mr Lent said she was dangling for at least 90 seconds, and possibly a few minutes.
"I'm just glad we could be there to help", Ms Winchell said.
She was rushed to hospital after plummeting from the gondola ride but is in a stable condition with no serious injuries. I don't know how she got to hang off the ride, but ride safety is so important. She was transported to an area hospital and we are in the process of gathering more information.
Lent noted that ride didn't have seat belts, only a bar to hold patrons inside. Luckily, courageous park staff and guests banded together and coaxed the girl into making a 20-foot (6 meter) leap of faith.
Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services, a Cincinnati-based industry consultant, said he was familiar with the Sky Ride from visits to the park with his longtime friend, the late Charles Wood, the park's founder.
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