21 rescued after being stuck several hours on California theme park ride

© DK Images/REX/Shutterstock. FILE- Knotts Berry Farm rollercoaster
21 people rescued from "Sky Cabin" ride at California theme park

LOS ANGELES, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Twenty people and a ride operator were rescued on Friday after being trapped for several hours about 100 feet (30 m) above the ground in an enclosed cabin of an amusement park ride in Southern California.

Rescue workers helped the people, including several children, rappel down ropes from the Sky Cabin at the Knott's Berry Farm, footage from local media showed.

The ride, described as a "fully enclosed revolving observational deck," stopped working at about 2 p.m. local time, the amusement park said in a statement.

The last of the riders were rescued at 9:54 p.m. local time, the park said.

No one was injured, according to the amusement park.

TV news video earlier showed a fire department ladder reaching up along the tower where the platform was stuck but falling well short of the cabin where the people were trapped.

The park said the ride will be closed until the investigation is complete.

Riders stuck 130 feet in the air on malfunctioning ride at Knott's Berry Farm

A Knott’s Berry Farm ride that malfunctioned trapped 21 riders, including several children, 130 feet in the air for more than six hours Friday before they were rescued, authorities said.

The malfunction occurred on the popular Sky Cabin ride, a slow-moving attraction that lifts riders up to 180 feet for a 360-degree view of Buena Park and the surrounding area, authorities said.

None of the riders were hurt or were in danger, said Capt. Larry Kurtz, a spokesman for the Orange County Fire Authority.

Knott’s Berry Farm said the ride malfunctioned about 2 p.m. After several failed attempts to fix it, officials contacted the fire department.

About 36 firefighters responded to the scene about 5 p.m. and immediately began  working with ride operators to lower the passenger cab.  “Time is on our side,” Kurtz said as rescue operations got underway.

But emergency crews failed to restart the ride, whose circular cabin climbs a large tower. About 7:30 p.m., firefighters used a safety harness to begin lowering passengers to the ground one by one, as onlookers below clapped and cheered.

"It sounds scary, but these guys, they train for this all the time," Kurtz told Eyewitness News. "We have very, very strong ropes that have 9,000 pounds of breaking strength on them."

Knotts Berry Farm ride traps 21 people 100 feet in the air, officials say

Twenty riders and one ride operator were rescued from a ride at the southern California amusement park, Knott’s Berry Farm on Friday night, with some being trapped for more than seven hours.

The riders, both children and adults, were harnessed to firefighters and hugging them tightly as they were lowered one-by-one from the Sky Cabin.

One girl who appeared to be about 10 years old could be seen smiling as she descended, her turquoise Converse sneakers dangling high above the crowd of onlookers.

Firefighters briefly pulled a large, cherry-picker crane up to the ride but decided not to use it and returned to using the ropes. After about two hours, around half of the riders, mostly children, were down.

Initial reports said 18 people were trapped, but Knott’s Berry Farm issued a statement saying 20 riders and one ride operator had been rescued by 10:00 p.m. PT.

At about 2 p.m. the Sky Cabin ride stopped approximately 100 feet in the air, Knott’s Berry Farm said an email, CBS Los Angeles reports.  Maintenance crews made several unsuccessful attempts to bring the ride down before contacting the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA).

“What we’re gonna do right now is formulate a plan on exactly how to bring them down,” Capt. Larry Kurtz told CBS Los Angeles.

By 6:30 p.m., the rescuers had climbed to the top of the ride, about 225 feet up, and rappelled down to the trapped passengers in the cabin. At around 7:15 p.m., the OCFA began rappelling people to safety using a line and a harness. Women and children were being rescued first. As of 9 p.m., 11  people had been rescued. One little girl clung to a firefighter as a rope lowered her to the ground.

Eddie Kim told CBS Los Angeles that three of his children were on the ride when it stalled.

“My two daughters came down… my eight-year-old girl was crying when she came down,” Kim said.

The Sky Cabin is a slow-moving attraction where riders in a circular tram travel up a large cylinder, which firefighters had to climb to begin saving the passengers. The ride is fully enclosed and is more like being in a room than on a ride. The Knott’s website calls it “mild” and says it’s meant to give “a 360 degree panoramic view of Orange County, Catalina Island, and the LA basin.”

It was 100 feet high when it stopped at about 2 p.m., Knott’s said in a statement. Park mechanics made several attempts to bring it down before calling the fire department.

The OCFA tried to bring in a cherry picker lift that would have allowed for multiple people to be rescued at once. However, that attempt failed and firefighters were forced to resort to rappelling one person at a time.

It was not immediately clear what may have caused the ride to stall.

Knott’s Berry Farm describes the Sky Cabin, which was built in the 1970s, as a “fully enclosed revolving observation ride.”

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