Oaks Park, Oregon’s AtmosFEAR ride left people stuck 50 feet in the air

Screams of joy turned to screams of terror minutes after a ride at an Oregon amusement park malfunctioned Friday, leaving more than two dozen people hanging upside down — 50 feet in the tunes – for almost 30 minutes.

The AtmosFEAR ride – described as a “breathtaking extreme attraction” – at Oaks Park in Portland stopped at its highest point around 2:55 p.m., the park said in a statement. First responders arrived about 15 minutes later, Portland Fire & Rescue said, and worked with park staff members to lower all 28 passengers to the ground as spectators cheered.

One rider with a pre-existing health condition was taken to hospital as a precaution, while others were released by medics, the park said.

The cause of the incident was clear on Saturday. Park managers said they were in contact with the ride’s manufacturer and would work with state inspectors to identify the problem.

“We want to express our deepest gratitude to the first responders and our staff for acting quickly,” the park’s statement said. “Above all, we are grateful that the riders are safe and with their families.”

The park, which opened in 1905, describes AtmosFEAR as “an exciting attraction with up and down flowing and swinging motions.” Friday’s incident was the ride’s first safety issue since it opened in 2021, Oaks Park said. He said first responders performed a rescue on the route last year.

Illya Plaksey, 44, said he was waiting in line for a nearby ride when he saw AtmosFEAR pull up. Thirty seconds have passed. Then a minute.

After a few more minutes, Plaksey said, a staff member announced that help was on the way. Staff members then announced that the park was closed and asked visitors to leave.

As a crowd watched the stranded riders, cellphones began falling to the ground and riders screamed for help, Plaksey said. He said most of the riders appeared to be teenagers.

LaVina Waters, 50, was at the Oaks Park arcade with her children and grandchildren when a woman ran in screaming that people were stuck in the air. Waters came out to join the crowd that had gathered to watch the riders waiting to be rescued.

Seeing a shoe fall off one of the hanging riders reaffirmed to Waters that big attractions like AtmosFEAR are not for her, she said.

“I wasn’t there,” Waters said, “but it scares me.”

AtmosFEAR is closed until further notice.

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