UPPER MARLBORO, Md. - Thrill seekers at Six Flags America had some tense moments Thursday when the roller coaster they were riding on stalled, causing them to be stranded about 80 to 100 feet in the air for several hours until they could be rescued by firefighters.
One day after the incident, Prince George’s County Fire and EMS provided a close-up look of the rescue from a GoPro camera they attached to the back of one of the bucket lifts used to help bring down 24 riders off of The Joker’s Jinx roller coaster.
Fire officials said 50 fire and rescue personnel from Prince George’s County and Anne Arundel County worked together to rescue the riders. A high angle rescue team placed the riders into safety harnesses to help remove them from their seats to the tower bucket. From there, the riders were lowered to the ground in a rescue operation that took about four hours. The riders, ranging in age from 6 to 45, were all brought down safely by 9:30 p.m.
In addition to the height of the stalled roller coaster, Thursday’s rescue was also challenging because of the angle of they were at. Also, the tracks and pipes they are standing on are very slick. However, that is why their rescue team conducts training on these exact roller coaster rides twice a year.
“[The firefighters] were communicating with us," said Julia Valverde. "They sort of told us what was going to happen, and at one point, a firefighter came up and told us what we were going to do. So we followed those procedures to get down the ride."
“When firefighters first got up there, there were some young children that were pretty much hysterical,” said Prince George’s County Fire and EMS spokesperson Mark Brady. “We were able to calm them down and move forward with the rescue operation, which took us about three-and-a-half total hours.”
This is not the first time people have been stranded on this roller coaster. Back in August 2014, The Joker's Jinx also got stuck at nearly the same spot. It took around five hours for crews to rescue these riders. (Watch video of the 2014 incident below. (App users: Click here to watch)
The Washington Post reports that as a result of this incident, Six Flags America had to pay out tens of thousands of dollars in settlement money to the people who were stuck on this ride.
Maryland officials said The Joker's Jinx passed inspection on March 3 and the ride does not have any outstanding violations.
Six Flags America is open and operating on Friday. However, The Joker's Jinx was not open and the cars were still up on the tracks as the investigation continued. Six Flags said that investigation will take a couple of days to figure out what caused the ride to stall.