A child was taken to hospital after hitting her head and falling unconscious when a rollercoaster broke down in Merseyside on Saturday, while 18 others had to be rescued from the ride.
Emergency services were called to Southport Pleasureland after the Rocket Coaster stopped working and left revellers trapped in their seats, some in mid-air.
North West Ambulance Service, which was called to the scene, said that the child, who was unconscious but breathing, was treated by paramedics before being taken to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
Southport Pleasureland said it had launched an investigation into the incident.
Staff at the amusement park used a cherry picker to safely remove all those who were stuck on the ride, and said that at no point was anyone “at any risk of falling”, as the carriages were “secure on the track”.
The work to remove everyone from the ride is believed to have taken around 90 minutes.
Michael Bowman, 57, who had travelled to the amusement park from Stoke-on-Trent with his wife Christine, 35, and eight-year-old son, told reporters that they had left the park after becoming concerned about safety when two other rides were affected by technical problems.
He said: “We walked towards the Rocket and I thought, something’s not right there. All of a sudden a cherry picker came past us, and staff were guiding people out the way.
“We looked up and said ‘Oh my God, it’s stuck all the way round.’ You could see that it was on an angle and they were all leaning. The parents had hold of the children because they were leaning out of the carriage on the bend.
“People were just stood watching in shock. We know that a young girl had passed out and the father was trying to climb over the barrier out of the ride to get to his daughter. You could see the worry in the father’s face.
“The ambulance was on its way at that point. They must have been up there a good hour and a half.”
The ambulance service said 17 people were given precautionary checks by paramedics.
A spokesperson for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service said: “A multi-agency meeting took place between North West Ambulance Service and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, and the Health and Safety Executive was informed. The ride is to be isolated and a full inspection to be carried out.”
In a statement issued on Sunday, a Southport Pleasureland spokesperson said: “We are sorry for the distress caused to passengers on one of our coasters yesterday. Our immediate priority was looking after everyone’s safe removal from the ride.
“Senior management and maintenance team members are today continuing a thorough investigation into carriages stopping on the park’s Rocket Coaster yesterday morning. All routine maintenance checks had been carried out, as they are on all rides each morning, before the ride went into commission.
“The ride did exactly what its safety settings are programmed to do, and stopped on detecting a fault. It was the first run of the day, and the ride, which has a 22-person capacity, was loaded with 19 riders.
“No one was at any risk of falling from the ride, the carriages were secure on the track, and the park’s operations director immediately made his way up the gantry to speak to riders and explain that they would be brought off the ride safely, as part of the park’s instant response safety process.
“At the same time, the maintenance crew was further immobilising carriages to ensure passengers’ safe exit from the ride via one of the park’s cherry pickers. An ambulance and the fire brigade were called immediately, both standard emergency-response practice.
“A young girl who had lost consciousness was the team’s priority, and [she was] checked by ambulance paramedics. That first-response healthcare team was available to other passengers.
“On seeing how the park was handling the situation and safely retrieving passengers, the fire brigade commended the team, took no action and left the scene. As a consequence of calling maintenance staff to attend the coaster, one or two of the other rides were off for a very short while during the day.
“This is because the systems require reset buttons to be pressed – something that is maintenance’s responsibility. This represented a very short disruption.
“Our priority is always safety, and our team checks and maintains rides, and trains to keep emergency procedures front of mind, should they be needed, so they are delivered fast and effectively. Once again we apologise to our passengers.”