A fallen tree branch over a roller coaster track derailed almost two dozen guests Monday night at Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park near Los Angeles, leaving riders hanging dozens of feet in the air for nearly three hours.
Four were injured and two were sent to the hospital, according to CNN.
A group of 22 parkgoers hung from the Ninja roller coaster for more than 2 1/2 hours over the Magic Mountain amusement park in Valencia, California, according to The Huffington Post.
“It looked like a pine tree fell, and it fell across the track of the Ninja ride,” Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Rick Flores said, according to WTVR. “The car came around the corner and it hit the tree.”
The Ninja roller coaster suspends guests in shoulder harnesses as it winds along the track at speeds up to 55 mph, according to Magic Mountain’s website.
“The black belt of roller coasters whips you into submission,” the website says, describing the Ninja. “You’re hanging from the track, which on this insane ride is above your head. Shoulder harnesses secure you in place, but don’t expect to just sit in one place – you’re going to be swinging all over, a full 90 degrees each way.”
Almost two dozen riders swung off the tracks and into a wooded area shortly before 6 p.m. Monday, when the Ninja roller coaster struck part of a fallen tree that was obstructing the track.
Those reported injured were riding in the first car that struck the tree, according to KTLA 5.
The Magic Mountain website says that the Ninja “sits high on Samurai Hill, overlooking all of Six Flags Magic Mountain, but there’s not much time to enjoy the view.”
Those suspended after the crash had nearly three hours to take in the sights as rescue workers attempted to free them.
“We were going across one turn and all of a sudden a loud noise happened. I ducked down just in time. A hard branch hit me in the head. I was there bleeding from my head,” said rider Jeremy Ead, according to CBS Los Angeles. “It took about 45 minutes to get any kind of response.”
First responders were reportedly called around 6 p.m., according to WTVR. Rescuers began bringing the suspended riders to the ground shortly before 8 p.m.
“One woman’s child was on there for an hour, and no one was able to tell her whatever was going on. We just want to get out of here,” Ead said after the incident, according to CBS Los Angeles.
Tonight a branch fell on the Ninja coaster track obstructing the train. Riders are all down and safe. Ride closed until cleared.— Six Flags MM (@SFMagicMountain) July 8, 2014
The Ninja has been operating at Magic Mountain for more than 25 years, according to the park’s website. It has been temporarily closed until a “thorough inspection of the area is complete,” park spokeswoman Sue Carpenter said in a statement, according to The Los Angeles Daily News.
“The safety of our guests and employees is our number one priority,” she said.
A Dallas woman was killed in another Six Flags park almost a year before this incident. Rosa Esparza was thrown from the seat of a roller coaster on July 19, 2013, at Six Flags Over Texas near Fort Worth, falling to her death, according to The Dallas Observer.
There were 269 “significant injuries” at Six Flags Magic Mountain in 2013, according to the Amusement Safety Organization, up from 72 in 2012 and 86 in 2011. None were related to the Ninja ride.