16 People Rescued After SeaWorld Gondola Ride Malfunctions

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Sixteen people were back on solid ground today after they were trapped for hours when a gondola ride at SeaWorld malfunctioned due to a large wind gust.

Rescue crews were called in around 7:20 p.m. Monday after the Bayside Skyride malfunctioned and the first person was rescued at about 8:50 p.m., the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department reported.

By about 10 p.m., four adults and four minors were rescued from the ride high above the park, with eight left to rescue, fire officials said. The last of the riders were removed from the ride about 11 p.m.

Firefighters lowered the victims in harnesses to San Diego Lifeguard boats in Mission Bay then the riders were transported to a nearby dock, fire officials said.

``Something like this, we want to be slow and methodical,'' SDFD Battalion Chief Robert Logan said at a news conference. ``The room for error is very slim because there is such a high drop and there is water below.''

The park was hit by an ``unusual gust of significant wind'' about 6:30 p.m. Monday, SeaWorld officials said in a statement.

Park officials were in contact with the trapped guests by intercom and blankets were on board each of the gondolas on the Bayside Skyride.

Reports from the scene indicated five gondolas were involved and that the trapped riders included an infant and a partially paralyzed person.

SeaWorld officials said the ride will be thoroughly inspected before it can be operated again.

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