A malfunctioning ride at Canada’s Wonderland amusement park in Vaughan, Ontario, caused a terrifying ordeal for the passengers on Saturday night. The Lumberjack ride, which swings riders upside down through 360-degree loops, stopped abruptly and left them suspended in the air for almost half an hour.
What happened on the Lumberjack ride?
According to a statement from Canada’s Wonderland, the Lumberjack ride became inverted with guests onboard at about 10:40 p.m. (local time). The park’s maintenance team responded swiftly and brought all passengers to ground by 11:05 p.m.
“Guests were unloaded safely and assessed by First Aid staff before being released back into the park,” the statement said. “Two guests reported chest pain and were attended to at the park’s health centre before being released without need for further medical attention.”
The park did not reveal how many people were on the ride when it malfunctioned, or what caused the ride to stop abruptly. The park spokesperson told USA TODAY that the ride was closed the next day on Sunday and that an investigation is ongoing.
How did the passengers and witnesses react?
Video footage from the incident shows riders dangling and hanging upside down in the air as they waited for help to arrive. Some of them can be heard screaming and crying, while others appear to be motionless.
One of the riders, Spencer Parkhouse, told CBC News that one person on the ride vomited. He said that the ride completed its cycle when it restarted before coming to a halt, causing further anxiety.
While Parkhouse and his sister Mackenzie are doing alright, the incident was unsettling for them, and they are unsure if they’ll ever ride a roller coaster again.
Jiashira Rivera, a witness who was planning to go on the Lumberjack ride but changed her mind when she saw it was stuck, said she prayed that the situation would resolve safely.
“It was crazy. It was really scary, actually,” she told Global News. “They kept screaming, ‘Get us down. Take us down. When can we go down?’ Others were screaming, ‘Call 911. Oh, my God, we need to call 911.’ There were parents scared around us. After about 20 minutes, people started crying. It was definitely traumatizing.”
What is the Lumberjack ride?
The Lumberjack ride was introduced in 2018 as part of Canada’s Wonderland’s expansion of its thrill rides. The ride takes guests for a thrilling ride on two swinging axe pendulums, propelling them into the sky with their feet dangling through 360-degree loops.
The ride, which has a thrill level of “aggressive,” swings riders upside down both forward and backward. “Riders will experience weightlessness and rapidly changing forces and direction,” according to the official description on the website.
Guests are seated face-to-face to allow them to interact with one another and “watch the terror on their friends’ faces as they loop round and round, changing directions halfway through.”
The Lumberjack ride is one of the 18 roller coasters at Canada’s Wonderland, which is the second most of any theme park in the world, behind Six Flags Magic Mountain in California, which has 20.
How common are amusement park ride accidents?
Amusement park ride accidents are rare but spectacular events that often attract media attention and public concern. According to a report by CBC News in 2017, there were 42 amusement park injuries reported in Canada between 2013 and 2016, out of more than 70 million visits.
Most of these injuries were minor, such as bruises, cuts and sprains. Only four injuries required hospitalization, and none were fatal. The report also found that Canada has no national standards or regulations for amusement park rides, and that each province has its own rules and inspection regimes.
In comparison, in the United States, there were an estimated 30,900 emergency department-treated injuries associated with amusement attractions in 2016, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This includes both fixed-site rides at theme parks and mobile rides at fairs and carnivals.
The CPSC also reported four fatalities involving amusement attractions in 2016. However, these numbers may not reflect the true extent of amusement park injuries and deaths in the U.S., as there is no federal oversight or mandatory reporting system for amusement park rides.
Experts say that amusement park rides are generally safe and that the risk of injury or death is very low compared to other activities. They also advise riders to follow safety instructions, such as wearing seat belts and harnesses, keeping arms and legs inside the ride, and avoiding rides that are not suitable for their age or health condition.