Crews rescued more than a dozen guests trapped on a SeaWorld San Diego ride for hours Monday night, according to San Diego Fire-Rescue.
Bayside Skyride is a gondola ride that crosses Mission Bay.
Rescue crews were called in at around 7:20 p.m. for the 16 people stranded on five different gondolas, said SDFD Battalion Chief Robert Logan.
SDFD said there was a big gust of wind that tripped a circuit breaker that caused the ride to stop working.
The first two guests were rescued by 9:20 p.m., SDFD said. By 10 p.m., half of the guests had been rescued. And just before 11 p.m., all of the guests had been rescued.
Crews lowered the guests via a rope system down into boats in Mission Bay that then transported them to a nearby dock, according to Logan.
SEAWORLD RESCUE UPDATE: All 16 persons trapped in the gondola ride are safe on the ground. Great job by our Technical Rescue Team firefighters, @SDLifeguards & support staff. pic.twitter.com/tQvF9djg9U
— SDFD (@SDFD) February 19, 2019
Of the 16 people, Logan said there was one infant. The infant required a special harness. Another person involved was described as partially paralyzed.
“Something like this we want to be slow and methodical,” Logan said. “A fall from that distance can be catastrophic.”
The passengers were rescued one at a time.
“All the guests are currently safe,” SeaWorld said in a released statement.
SeaWorld said it was in contact with all of the trapped guests during the rescue. Blankets were already available on the gondolas, the theme park said.
Logan said warming packs and additional blankets were brought up to the stranded people during the rescue efforts.
— Omari Fleming (@OmariNBCSD) February 19, 2019
Jonathan Sherr was reportedly one of the guests stuck on the ride. He was in a gondola with his 15-year-old son.
At around 6:15 p.m., Sherr said the wind “just started rocking the cart, and I looked up at the cable, and right when I was looking up at the cable shaking violently, we just stopped.”
Sherr said there were some wind gusts prior to getting on the ride.
Sherr said he would take his family to SeaWorld a lot when his kids were younger. “I won’t be coming back,” he said.
“Watching the cable shake violently was a pretty daunting thing,” Sherr said. He was inside gondola number four, but when it stopped moving, he said he and his son were “at peace.”
Sherr’s daughter, Dylan, had just gotten off the ride when Bayside Skyride lost power. “We would have been stuck up there if we didn’t go before them,” she said. “We were the last ones to get off up there.”
Sherr claimed there was a lack of communication between guests and SeaWorld for the first hour they were trapped. However, the theme park said it is in accordance with the “highest safety standards.”
Natasha Nelson told NBC 7 her family were some of the other guests trapped on the ride.
Nelson’s 11-year-old daughter and 12-year-old nephew were reportedly in one gondola. Nelson’s sister, Naomi Ince, and Ince’s 9-year-old daughter were in another gondola.
Ince had been watching the children at this time, and Nelson said her sister’s phone had since died.
No injuries were reported.
SeaWorld issued the following statement:
Guest safety is paramount. Due to an unusual gust of significant wind, the operations of the Bayside Skyride stopped. A number of guests are currently on the Skyride seated in 5 gondolas. We are currently working with San Diego Fire & Rescue and the San Diego Lifeguards to evacuate the guests from the ride. We practice emergency evacuation procedures with local first responders annually. We are in contact with the guests via intercom, and they have been made aware of the evacuation procedures. There are also blankets on board each gondola. Evacuations will be conducted in accordance with the highest safety standards. All the guests are currently safe while awaiting evacuation. Guest safety is our top priority. Once our guests are cared for, we will conduct a thorough inspection of the ride prior to re-opening. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused the guests.
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