People flock to roller coaster rides for the same reason they flock to horror movies. They know they’ll be screaming, they know they’ll be scared out of their wits, but they also know deep down inside that they are in a controlled and safe environment. And while that is usually the case, up to six people were injured near Los Angeles Monday when a roller coaster derailed.
The incident happened at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, CA, around 5:30pm. Passengers on the Ninja were shocked when they heard what one witness called a “big boom”. Many people thought an explosion had occurred, but in reality, the Ninja, described by Six Flags as the “Black Belt of Roller Coasters", crashed into some pine tree branches that had fallen across the track and caused the cars to derail.
Fortunately the cars, seen hanging precariously from the underside of the roller coaster, remained attached to the track at an angle. Reports vary on the number of people injured, but by all accounts four to six people received minor injuries. The 25 passengers on the stranded roller coaster were stuck swinging back and forth approximately 30 feet in the air for almost three hours before rescue workers were able to safely evacuate everyone.
The authorities were praised for the excellent job they did in calming down the passengers and de-escalating the initial panic. They used extendable ladders and heavy equipment movers to reach the passengers and extract them from the cars one person at a time. They worked quickly, but gently, being careful not to upset the balance of the dangling cars.
Six Flags issued a statement, “The safety of our guests and employees is our number one priority and as a precaution, the ride will remain closed until a thorough inspection of the area is complete.” In this case it was not a missing screw or faulty track that caused the derailment, but the fallen tree branch could be considered an act of nature. You can read more details about the Ninja, which reaches speeds of up to 55mph, on the ultimate roller coaster website.