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Six Flags roller coaster derails, hangs in air for hours

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 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 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.

The park's website advertises that Ninja swoops through the trees to give riders a thrill.

"As you shoot down the snake-like steel track you'll grip the hillsides and blast through the trees swiftly, slicing through the landscape," the ride's online description says. "Ninja pivots with precision as you narrowly miss tagging land and water, whipping around at 55 miles per hour."

The ride would remain shut down while the accident was investigated, park spokeswoman Sue Carpenter said in a statement.

Six Flags Magic Mountain is in the Valencia area of Santa Clarita, about 25 miles north of Los Angeles.

The accident comes nearly a year after a woman was ejected from a roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington and died. The death was ruled an accident, but her family has sued both Six Flags and the German company that built the coaster's trains, both of whom denied any wrongdoing.

In September 2012 at another Southern California amusement park, Knott's Berry Farm, riders were left dangling at 300 feet for more than three hours when its Windseeker ride broke down. No one was injured in that breakdown.

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

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trmbone1 July 08 2014 at 4:42 AM

I'm really glad everyone's safe. This could have ended MUCH worse..

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1 reply
taxshoppe trmbone1 July 08 2014 at 6:18 PM

You don't fix the ride, you get rid of the ride!

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WildMtHoney888 July 08 2014 at 12:01 PM

You think they have tree trimming crews. All the physics that goes into a ride. You think they would include tangibles like branches. Or keep up the checks they might already have. Or take into account trees grow. Guess not.

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2 replies
rconfsd WildMtHoney888 July 08 2014 at 12:09 PM

The ride had been operating for at least 7 hours, to think that the tree had a growth spurt in a span of minutes is ridiculous.

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John WildMtHoney888 July 08 2014 at 6:10 PM

What was trees health? Damage to tree roots system during construction of ride? Weather at the time? Many factors to be considered.

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Hoagie58 July 08 2014 at 1:23 PM

It appears as though the "fault" is human error, in maintaining clearance between trees and tracks. The ride itself however, seems to have performed flawlessly. Glad it ended like it did, because it certainly could have been much worse!

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caveat1983 July 08 2014 at 1:51 PM

Plenty of time for the ambulance chasing scumbag lawyers to hop in their ferrari's and get to the park.

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1 reply
taxshoppe caveat1983 July 08 2014 at 6:20 PM

It was sure warranted this time!

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polfpilf July 08 2014 at 4:31 PM

Human error is almost always a factor, thats why I dont ride these things. I was about to ride one when I noticed a couple of the workers yawning and scratching their behinds.

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pdbliz July 08 2014 at 6:30 PM

UNION RIDE,!!!!

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braucksd July 08 2014 at 9:08 PM

Shaina....they bought their tickets......they knew what they were getting into........I say, let em' crash!!........

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1 reply
Julie /Spookqeen braucksd July 08 2014 at 9:25 PM

Yes, they bought the tickets, but we expect a certain amount of safety precautions to be performed. Anytime you board a coaster is a gamble, but this is human/park error and should have never happened.

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