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Riders evacuated after being stuck on rollercoaster at Universal Orlando

6:48 AM, Oct 10, 2013   |    comments
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ORLANDO, Florida (WKMG) -- Firefighters on Wednesday rescued 12 riders, including at least one child, who were stuck in a vertical position atop a roller coaster at Universal Orlando for more than two hours, officials said.  

The Orlando Fire Department said it received a call around 7 p.m. that the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit was stuck with several people on board.

PHOTOS: Riders stuck on Universal Studios coaster

Crews worked for a couple of hours assessing the situation, and just after 9 p.m., firefighters started using harnesses and ropes or cables to rescue the passengers perched atop the ride, which stands 167 feet tall.

The passengers were removed one at a time, and one of the riders was taken to a nearby hospital after complaining of neck pain, Universal Orlando spokesman Tom Shroeder said.

Universal said the ride shut down automatically, but the cause of the malfunction was not immediately known.  The ride has been closed but may reopen Thursday, depending on what's discovered by technicians, Shroeder said.

The Young family was on the rollercoaster just an hour before it got stuck in mid air.

"I would be crying, I would be in tears," said Barb Young. "You were literally feeling like you were going to fall out the back when you were going up, so I couldn't imagine being that last car."

Matt and Cassie Pelan also rode the Rip Ride Rockit and thought they noticed something strange.

"I just saw the roller coaster sitting there and I thought maybe it was stuck," says Matt.

District Chief Ian Davis said the 12 people were given towels to stay warm during the rescue.

"Once we got it to a horizontal position, then our guys put the victims in harnesses and was able to walk them off the ladder," said Davis.

During the incident, Shroeder said the park was doing "everything (it) can to make the guests comfortable."

Local 6 News helicopter Sky 6 flew over the scene, showing the ride stuck with the cars in the vertical position at the top of the track.

According to Universal's website, Rip Ride Rockit reaches top speeds of 65 mph and towers 17 stories over the theme park.

An investigation will be launched into the incident.

Universal initially said there were 10 passengers on the ride.

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