Riders rescued from Cheetah Hunt roller coaster

TAMPA — Sixteen people aboard the Cheetah Hunt roller coaster at Busch Gardens became temporarily stuck Wednesday afternoon when the thrill ride stalled on a crest in the tracks shortly after leaving the station.

Busch Gardens spokesman Travis Claytor said the fully loaded cars had just departed at 2:38 p.m. when they got stuck on top of the first embankment.

Park personnel tried to nudge the ride free so it would roll back to the platform on its own, but that didn't work.

So they called Tampa Fire Rescue. That agency extended a ladder with a bucket. The park used a cherry picker. Together, they rescued the stuck riders in about an hour.

No injuries were reported. Once the riders were off while the afternoon rain fell, the park provided them with towels and umbrellas, as well as hot beverages.

Claytor said this is the first time the Cheetah Hunt has stopped in that particular location, but not the first time overall. The roller coaster has a sensor system that stops the ride any time it detects something unusual, he said.

He said maintenance and operations would be investigating the ride into the evening and possibly today. Until then, it will remain closed.

At 4,400 feet, the Cheetah Hunt is Busch Gardens' longest thrill ride. It carries riders above the park, then races down along the ground through a rocky gorge. It opened in May 2011, but had some technical troubles then that caused a delay of a few hours. A park spokeswoman at the time blamed malfunctioning sensors in the new ride.

Riders rescued from Cheetah Hunt roller coaster 02/12/14 [Last modified: Thursday, February 13, 2014 3:43pm]

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