Tree toppled onto coaster; left riders dangling

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 8, 2014 at 3:05 pm •  Published: July 8, 2014

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — An entire tree fell onto a roller coaster's tracks in California, dislodging the front car and keeping nearly two dozen riders hanging 20 to 30 feet in the air for hours, according to the state agency that investigates workplace accidents.

Initial reports suggested it was a branch that fell, but Peter Melton, a spokesman for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, said Tuesday the whole tree came crashing down. An overhead photograph showed the trunk resting on the tracks.

The Ninja coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain will remain closed until investigators determine exactly what went wrong, said Melton. Cal/OSHA would have to sign off before it is returned to service, he said.

It took nearly three hours for all 22 of the stranded riders to be rescued Monday night.

Four people were hurt and two were taken to the 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 stopped abruptly at about 5:30 p.m., said Michael Pittman, a Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatch supervisor.

At least one of the cars, which are normally suspended beneath the track, was dangling at an angle, derailed at the front.

Firefighters and park maintenance workers removed the riders one by one through a tangle of track and trees. All were alert and communicated with park staff during the evacuation, Six Flags said in a statement.

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