A rescue operation was launched in the British seaside town of Southend when a rollercoaster malfunctioned leaving riders in the air for 35 minutes. The 72-foot-high Rage rollercoaster made a loud cracking sound, stopped, and left terrified passengers stranded with their backs to the ground until they were resuced by the local Essex Fire and Rescue Service. The ride underwent safety testing and was permitted to reopen the same afternoon.
The incident was the second involving the Rage rollercoaster this year – it also came to a halt in July, leaving eight riders languishing at 72 feet above the ground. Footage from that incident also showed that one of the cars had detached and hung vertically with its riders facing the sky.
There were no injuries in the Southend incident, but a similar fault in 2020 led to a $400,000 fine for the organizers of Lightwater Valley in Yorkshire in northern England. The fine was issued for breaches of the UK’s Health and Safety at Work Act when a 7-year-old boy fell through a gap between the seat and a restraining bar. The child was airlifted to hospital with severe head injuries but survived.
The most recent fatal amusement park incident in the United States occurred in Florida in 2022 when a teenager fell almost 400 feet from the FreeFall drop tower at ICON Park in Orlando. Tyre Sampson, who was 14, came out of his seat during the ride’s 75-mph descent when magnets employed to slow the descent failed to engage.
Questions were raised about whether Tyre should have been permitted on the ride due to his size; his father said he was 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighed 340 pounds. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services later posted their regulations online, which stated that the FreeFall ride should not be used by anyone weighing more than 287 pounds.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office investigated the incident, but no charges were filed.