Riders rescued after being stuck on Universal coaster

12 passengers safely removed from Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit

Published On: Oct 09 2013 07:29:56 PM EDT   Updated On: Oct 10 2013 05:38:46 PM EDT
Riders stuck on rollercoaster at Universal
ORLANDO, Fla. -

Firefighters on Wednesday rescued 12 riders, including at least one child, who were stuck in a vertical position atop a roller coaster at Universal Orlando for more than two hours, officials said.  

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The Orlando Fire Department said it received a call around 7 p.m. that the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit was stuck with several people on board. The ride shut down again at around 4 p.m. and reopened about 45 minutes later, as Universal ran empty trains through the ride.

"We have a train, the Rockit, stuck in a vertical, vertical position," the caller reported. "Well the roller coaster car."

Crews worked for a couple of hours assessing the situation, and just after 9 p.m., firefighters started rescuing the passengers perched atop the ride, which stands 167 feet tall.

“Once we got (the ride) to a horizontal position, then our guys put the victims in harnesses and were able to walk them off the ladder,” said Davis.

The passengers were removed one at a time, and one of the riders was taken to a nearby hospital after complaining of neck pain, Universal Orlando spokesman Tom Shroeder said.

"We're happy that our guests are safely off Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. We'll find out what happened & will reopen the ride as soon as we can," Universal said in a tweet. 

Early Thursday, technicians began testing the ride, which reopened around 10:30 a.m.

During the incident, Shroeder said the park was doing "everything (it) can to make the guests comfortable."

Orlando Fire District Chief Ian Davis said the 12 people were given towels to stay warm during the two-hour ordeal.

Universal said a glitch caused the ride's computers to go into safety mode, shutting down the ride.  An investigation will be launched into the incident.

Local 6 News helicopter Sky 6 flew over the scene, showing the ride stuck with the cars in the vertical position at the top of the track.

According to Universal's website, Rip Ride Rockit reaches top speeds of 65 mph and towers 17 stories over the theme park.

The Young family was on the coaster an hour before it got stuck in mid-air.

“I would be crying.  I would be in tears,” Barb Young said. “You were literally feeling like you were going to fall out the back when you were going up, so I couldn't imagine being that last car.”

Matt and Cassie Pelan also rode the Rip Ride Rockit and thought they noticed something strange.

“I just saw the roller coaster sitting there and I thought maybe it was stuck,” Matt Pelan said.

The ride was previously closed for two days in August after the coaster came to a sudden stop, causing one woman to sustain a minor injury.

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