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Ride passengers rescued after dangling upside down, 75 feet up, for half an hour

A screenshot taken from social media shows passengers dangling from the area after the abrupt stop of of the Lumberjack ride at Ontario's Wonderland theme park.
Screenshot by NPR
@jiashira_ on TikTok
A screenshot taken from social media shows passengers dangling from the area after the abrupt stop of of the Lumberjack ride at Ontario's Wonderland theme park.

A Canadian amusement park ride turned into nightmare fuel on Sunday after stopping suddenly, suspending passengers upside down, 75 feet above the ground, for nearly 30 minutes.

The lumberjack ride, locatedat Canada's Wonderland theme park in Vaughan, Ontario, contains two hydraulic arms, shaped like axes, that swing back and forth, occasionally propelling themselves into full 360-degree swings.

Both of those axes stopped moving at 10:40 p.m. (local time), according to a statement from the Park shared with NPR.

A Wonderland spokesperson did not disclose the cause of the ride's abrupt stop, but did say that the maintenance team was able to respond quickly.

All passengers were back on the ground by 11:05 p.m., the park said. Two people were treated for chest pain before being released.

Theme park crowds watched as the rescue unfolded, capturing the dangling passengers crying for help in videos shared on social media.

In some clips, the park staff can be heard through a megaphone asking, "Is everyone doing OK up there?" The crowd of riders shouts back "No!" in near-unison.

It's unclear how many people were on the ride, which contains enough seats for 48 people. Some of the passengers were seated face-to-face with strangers, a design choice that "let guests interact with one another and watch the terror on their friends' faces as they loop round and round," according to the Wonderland website.

Those aboard the ride were panicked and at least one person vomited, rider Spencer Parkhouse told CBC News.

The 11-year-old said the hydraulic arms had to cycle through the rest of the ride before the group could be evacuated. "So the ride kept going and we're all like, 'No, please, I don't want to get stuck again,' " he said.

The incident is the latest in a string of roller coaster malfunctions that have made national headlines in the last few months.

In July, nine passengers of the oscillating Fireball at a Wisconsin festival were stuck upside down for several hours as first responders scrambled for equipment to conduct a mid-air evacuation.

Just days earlier, a 325-foot-tall roller coaster in North Carolina was closed for repairs after visitors reported seeing a complete fissure in one of its steel support beams. Inspectors later detected a second structural issue with the ride and declined to issue a certificate of operation,the Associated Press reported.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Emily Olson
Emily Olson is on a three-month assignment as a news writer and live blog editor, helping shape NPR's digital breaking news strategy.