Tampa, Florida -- There were some tense moments more than 60 feet up on Wednesday when Cheetah Hunt, Busch Gardens newest and most celebrated roller coaster, got stuck.
Tampa Fire Rescue was called in to rescue 16 trapped riders.
"They were at an angle probably 30 degrees, so just unbuckling them caused anxiety for both the passengers and our people, but [we] were able to put a nice harness on them, get them into the buckets, and lower them down to the ground," said Tampa Fire Special Ops Chief Emilio Salabarria.
One by one, rescue teams plucked passengers off the cars, but conditions were less than ideal. Heavy rain didn't dampen the rescue effort, but riders had to sit in the chilly downpour for more than an hour before being lifted to safety. Their ages ranged from teenagers to those in their seventies, and despite being calm, they were very pleased to pulled free.
"They walked away under their own power and they are at a hospitality place within Busch Gardens," said Tampa Fire Rescue information officer Jason Penny.
None of the 16 riders were injured. They were all escorted to their vehicles and left without incident.
Towering 102 feet above the front of the theme park, Cheetah Hunt is designed to launch riders to 60 miles an hour in just seconds, using atrio of magnetic launchers.The speed sends riders hurtling along a winding, tight track that is inspired by the world's fastest land animal, the cheetah.
Engineers with Busch Gardens will now begin the investigation to try and figure out what caused the ride to malfunction. Until then, it will remain closed.
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