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Cheetah Hunt roller coaster remains closed

TAMPA — Busch Gardens' longest thrill ride, the Cheetah Hunt roller coaster, remained closed Thursday while the theme park tries to determine just why 16 riders got stuck on it and had to be rescued a day earlier.

"Out of an abundance of caution we have delayed the opening of Cheetah Hunt for additional testing. Once complete, the ride will open," the park wrote in a Twitter message Thursday afternoon.

The park hoped the ride would have been open Thursday morning, said spokesman Travis Claytor. But engineers from the park and the ride's creator were still working to find out what went wrong.

Claytor said the park is exercising "an abundance of caution" and would not provide an estimate on when the ride might open again.

"Once the testing is complete, then we'll open it," Claytor said

Wednesday afternoon, 16 people aboard the Cheetah Hunt became temporarily stuck when the coaster stalled on a crest in the tracks shortly after leaving the station.

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

To bring the riders down to safety, Tampa Fire Rescue 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.

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.

Cheetah Hunt roller coaster remains closed 02/13/14 [Last modified: Thursday, February 13, 2014 4:40pm]

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