A 14-year-old girl who slipped out of her seat on a gondola ride at a U.S. theme park has had a lucky break after patrons quickly banded together to create a human cushion for her to land on.
She was later taken by helicopter to Albany Medical Center and was reported to be in stable condition with no serious injuries.
The Great Escape told local reporters that "there does not appear to be any malfunction of the ride, but we have closed the attraction until a thorough review can be completed". It was shut as a precaution. The girl didn't know how she had fallen out of the ride.
The 47-year-old and his 21-year-old daughter, Leeann Winchell, positioned themselves beneath the girl as the ride was stopped and security staff came running to help. She lets go, strikes a tree limb on the way down, and is caught by people in the crowd. Mathew and his daughter fell backwards after catching the girl.
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Last night a teenage girl got stuck on the gondola style ride that slowly moves through the park. "I couldn't let that little girl die", he told the AP. Video shows her hanging by her hands as a crowd 25 feet below reaches up and calls to her.
Mr Howard was treated and released for a minor back injury after the rescue. "No one wants to put himself underneath a body like that, but I couldn't stand by and watch".
"As my dad went down I held her up and passed her along", Winchell said.
She said the teenager was in good spirits.
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He claimed park employees took too long to stop the ride and said the ride lacked a seatbelt.
In one video taken of the scene and posted on Facebook, one of the people can be heard shouting: 'We'll catch you, honey'.
The sheriff's office said in a statement that the girl was riding the attraction with a child relative, and fell from a stationary two-person auto. "I'm not going to let you fall", Howard said.
The state Department of Labor cleared the ride to re-open Sunday, but the park opted to keep it closed. An investigation revealed the ride to be in compliance with safety codes and in full working order. "The safety and security of our guests is our top priority and our thoughts and prayers are with our guest and her family".
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