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Roller coaster riders stuck upside down for hours at Wisconsin festival


By Christina Zdanowicz, CNN

(CNN) — Festivalgoers got more of an adventure than they bargained for Sunday when a roller coaster ride got stuck at a fair in Wisconsin, leaving them hanging upside down for hours.

Eight passengers were left suspended when a mechanical failure stalled the ride at the Forest County Festival in Crandon, Wisconsin, the Crandon Fire Department said.

“There was a mechanical failure with the ride where it became stuck up in the upright position. The ride was recently inspected by the state of Wisconsin here on site,” fire department Capt. Brennan Cook told CNN affiliate WJFW.

Videos on social media and video taken by WJFW show a rescuer climbing up the side of the Fireball ride, while passengers wait upside down.

“Our department has never experienced a situation like we did (Sunday),” Erica Kostichka from Antigo Fire/EMS told CNN affiliate WAOW.

The passengers and the crews there to help them were harnessed to keep everyone safe during the rescue, Kostichka said.

An off-duty firefighter with specialized ropes rescue training happened to be on the scene and advised the Crandon Fire Department on potential rescue options, according to a joint news release Tuesday from the fire department and Crandon Area Rescue Squad.

Due to the height of the ride, special equipment and rescue teams were called in to help, the news release said.

Passengers waited for a ladder truck with a 100-foot platform to come from 45 minutes away, the release said. Firefighters from three cities assisted the Crandon Fire Department in the rescue.

The first passenger got back to solid ground at 3:20 p.m. CT, about two hours after emergency crews were dispatched, the news release said. The last passenger reached the ground at 5:01 p.m. – more than three hours after the ride stalled.

“Families are being reunited with people as they come down off of the ride from the rescuers and everybody seems to be doing as best as they can, given the circumstances,” Cook told WJFW.

Nine patients were treated by emergency medical services and one person was transported to Aspirus Rhinelander Hospital by ambulance, according to the release.

Ten fire vehicles, nine ambulances and 50 people from three counties helped rescue the passengers, the fire department said.

The ordeal came two days after a father spotted a crack in a steel support pillar at the top of a roller coaster at Carowinds amusement park in Charlotte, North Carolina. That ride was closed for inspection and repair.

Crandon is in northern Wisconsin, about 30 miles east of Rhinelander.

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