SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — A roller coaster hit a tree branch at the Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park Monday, dislodging the front car, leaving four people slightly injured and keeping nearly two dozen summer fun-seekers hanging 20 to 30 feet in the air for hours as day turned to night.
Two of the four people hurt on the Ninja coaster were taken to a hospital as a precaution, but all the injuries were minor, fire and park officials said.
"We were going across one turn and all of a sudden a loud noise happened," Jeremy Ead, one of the injured riders, told KCAL-TV. "I ducked down just in time. A hard branch hit me in the head. I was there bleeding from my head, which was a little worse than this," he said, pointing to a gash in his forehead.
The coaster hit the branch about 5:30 p.m. and stopped, said Michael Pittman, a Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatch supervisor. It was nearly three hours later before all 22 of the riders were rescued.
Televised news reports showed at least one of the cars that normally are suspended beneath the track dangling at an angle, derailed at the front.
Firefighters and park maintenance workers in harnesses could be seen removing the riders one by one from coaster cars. The riders could be seen waiting patiently as firefighters tried to reach them through a tangle of track and trees, some talking with each other and others resting with their eyes occasionally closed.
All were alert and communicated with park staff during the evacuation process, Six Flags said in a statement.