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Ladders too short for coaster rescue

Kansas City Star

Original Article »

June 13, 2007

Firefighters hoping to rescue a dozen people dangling from a roller coaster 150 feet above the ground had to wait for the ride to restart because their ladders only reached 100 feet, the fire chief said Wednesday.

Only a rappelling-style rescue could have plucked the riders from the X-Coaster at Magic Springs & Crystal Falls amusement park Saturday night, Fire Chief Ed Davis said. Such a rescue takes hours to secure the passengers individually and guide them back down to the ground, he said.

Instead, rescuers waited as park employees turned on a backup generator attached to the ride to power its cars back down the track.

The riders became stranded after parts of the park lost electrical power.

Jerry Fortner, a regional manager for Entergy Arkansas, blamed the outage on an animal that apparently touched a grounded piece of power line to one running 8,000 volts.

Everyone stuck on the ride received a free season pass to the park, park general manager Dan Aylward said.

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