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Parents cling to screaming kids 20ft in air as rollercoaster breaks down mid-ride

Parents were clinging onto their children while they were suspended 20ft in the air 'for at least 90 minutes' from a broken down rollercoaster, an eyewitness has said.

Kids were pictured screaming as they became stuck on the Rocket Coaster at Southport Pleasureland yesterday afternoon (Saturday). One girl had to be rushed to hospital after suffering a head injury and falling unconscious when the ride suddenly stopped.

Her father desperately clambered off the ride to get to her, the Mirror reports. She and 19 other people had to be rescued from the rollercoaster.

READ MORE: Parents cling to screaming kids 20ft in air on broken Southport Pleasureland rollercoaster

Michael Bowman, 57, who had travelled with his wife Christine, 35, and eight-year-old son from Stoke-on-Trent said that they left the park with safety concerns, after two more rides suffered technical issues. 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 all 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."

One dad was seen desperately clambering out of the ride to reach his unconscious daughter (Michael Bowman/The Mirror)

He claimed that they were stranded at least 20ft in the air. Maintenance teams for Pleasureland rushed to the scene and began rescuing the people trapped on the ride with a cherry picker.

Paramedics and fire crews were also called to the scene on Marine Drive. Pleasureland claimed that all other rides were working normally but had to be stopped and reset as a result of the fault with The Rocket coaster.

But Michael said he's now waiting for a £72 refund after telling staff the rides were unsafe - claiming he watched two more people evacuated from the Log Flume.

Michael added: "I said to my son 'Do you want to go on the carousel swings for a bit?', but the guy said 'Sorry mate, it's stopped working. It's got technical issues'.

"We said we might as well go on the Log Flume then.

"We looked up and couldn't believe it, the Log Flume was stuck and a member of staff was walking two people down the wooden ramp down the side.

"I saw a member of staff in a shirt and tie walk past and I said 'Excuse me mate, you can have these wristbands back we want a refund - three rides in two hours have all failed, I'm not taking a chance and going on any of your rides'."

Among the rescued passengers, 17 were given precautionary checks by paramedics. Southport Pleasureland said senior management and the theme park's maintenance team are continuing a 'thorough investigation' today (Sunday) 'into carriages stopping on the park’s Rocket Coaster yesterday morning'.

Three ambulances and two fire crews were called to the scene in Southport (Michael Bowman/The Mirror)

In a statement issued today, 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 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.”

Yesterday, 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."

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