CA: Computer glitch leaves riders hanging on Great America roller coaster : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Glitch leaves riders hanging on Great America roller coaster Patrons suspended 138 feet above ground

Henry K. Lee, Chuck Squatriglia, Chronicle Staff Writers Sunday, July 22, 2001


Santa Clara -- A roller coaster dubbed "Invertigo" jammed at Paramount's Great America amusement park in Santa Clara, trapping thrill-seekers 138 feet above the ground, a park spokeswoman said yesterday.

The ride, which suspends riders with their feet dangling through a "boomerang" 180-degree turn and a loop, came to an abrupt stop shortly before 6 p.m. Friday after it backed up to the top of a 138-foot lift.

"We were going up. I saw a big bolt thing swing down, and the whole ride just stopped," said Erik Heiser, 16, of Novato. "It just went bang and stopped.

It was a real loud noise. We were at the highest point on the ride."

There were no reported injuries from the incident, which happened after a table platform that drops to allow the cars to speed through the boarding station malfunctioned, prompting a computerized sensor system to automatically shut down the ride, said Great America spokeswoman Nicole Koebrich.

Within eight minutes, park workers brought the 28-seat car to within 4 feet of the platform and brought riders down with a stepladder, Koebrich said. Park officials weren't sure how many seats were empty when the incident occurred.

Still, the mishap shook Heiser, who was stuck along with his friend Zachary Kahn, 16, of Novato. Heiser estimated that the two were marooned for 45 minutes.

"We had no idea what was going on," Heiser said. "Nobody told us anything." He said park employees gave no explanation and were rude.

But Koebrich said it took 21 minutes from the time the ride stopped until the last passenger was removed. "I was not aware of anyone being rude."

Koebrich said park officials met riders at the attraction and received no other complaints. The teenagers signed forms requesting a refund, she said.

Officials closed Invertigo for an hour and a half to check it.

Invertigo, which opened in 1998, is billed as the only suspended, inverted face-to-face coaster in the West.

-- Carl Jenkins (, July 25, 2001

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