QUEENSBURY — Six Flags Great Escape officials are conducting an internal review of the park's "Sky Ride" after a 14-year-old girl fell 25 feet from one of its cars Saturday evening.
The girl, who is from Delaware, was not identified. Her fall was broken by a small crowd of park workers and attendees, but she was still injured, taken to Glens Falls Hospital, then to Albany Medical Center by helicopter.
According to Jessica Hansen, director of marketing and sales, the park immediately closed the ride once all visitors were off it Saturday. The state Department of Labor cleared the ride to re-open Sunday, but the park opted to keep it closed.
A cellphone video of the girl falling taken by Loren Lent of Glenville, went viral overnight, and the story was picked up by media outlets including staff-written stories in the the Washington Post, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and several papers in England.
Lent's own Facebook post received more than 1,400 comments in 22 hours, and the video was used in many of the news reports.
Back at the park
Lent was back at the park Sunday and was interviewed by The Post-Star's news partner, Channel 13, WNYT of Albany.
“He was screaming, ‘You got to help her, she can't hold her, she's going to fall, she's slipping, she's choking, she can't breathe, her head is caught,'” Lent told Channel 13. “It was just hysterics.”
The Sheriff's Office did not say what the girl was doing and how she ended up hanging from the ride in the first place. The ride has no height requirement and no seat belts. It does have a safety bar.
Plans in place
When asked about safety procedures at the park, Hansen said all rides have a standard evacuation plan.
"As part of our annual practice an evacuation drill is conducted in partnership with local emergency personnel on this particular ride each spring," she said in an emailed response. "Every situation is unique and requires the appropriate time and tools for the evacuation. We are reviewing our internal procedures to ensure the safety and security of our guests and team members."
Hansen said even though the park had permission to re-open the ride, park officials kept it closed "out of an abundance of caution."
The safety of our guests and team members is our top priority, and out of an abundance of caution, the ride will remain closed while we conduct a thorough internal review," she said.
Warren County Sheriff’s Office and emergency medical services were dispatched to the park at 8:05 p.m. Saturday, according to to the Sheriff's Office.
The girl, who is from Greenwood, Delaware, was riding with a younger relative when she fell.
The ride is very slow-moving, gondola that spans several hundred feet across the park, and had been stopped by the operator after having received a radio transmission from park staff on the ground that a rider was in distress.
The Sheriff's Office said the girl fell from the car, hit a tree as she fell.
A video posted to Facebook and YouTube shows her dangling from the car with a crowd beneath her, then losing her grip and falling.
She was treated by park emergency medical personnel at the scene and transported to Glens Falls Hospital. She was later taken by helicopter to Albany Medical Center and was reported to be in stable condition with no serious injuries. An updated condition was not available Sunday night.
Mattthew Howard Sr., 47, of Schenectady, a season-pass holder at the park, was transported to Glens Falls Hospital. He was treated and released for a back injury he suffered partially catching the falling girl.
Sheriff’s investigators, assisted by park personnel, inspected the ride and the car the girl was in Saturday night and said everything was in proper working order and all safety equipment was intact and operational.
Queensbury Central Fire, West Glens Falls EMS, and Bay Ridge EMS assisted at the scene.