UPPER MARLBORO – For the second time in three years, Prince George's Fire Department's Technical Rescue Team had to use their skills to rescue 24 people on a roller coaster last Thursday.
Twenty-four people on the “Joker's Jinx” ride at Six Flags Amusement Park in Upper Marlboro were trapped when the ride shut down, and it took rescue crews nearly four hours to remove all of the patrons to safety.
“We got the call around 5:30 p.m.,” said Mark Brady, spokesperson for Prince George's County Fire Department. “The first unit from the Bowie Fire Department Station 843 arrived on the scene and reported that the ride had stalled 80-feet above ground at a 30-degree angle, which makes the rescue somewhat difficult.”
To reach the trapped riders officials from past experience requested two 100-foot tower ladder trucks with buckets from District Heights Fire/EMS Station 826 and Anne Arundel Waugh Chapel Fire/EMS Station 5, along with several other special units from the county.
In August of 2014, the same ride stalled and trapped 24 riders.
“We know this ride very well,” said Volunteer Fire Chief Danny McCoy of Berwyn Heights Volunteer Fire Department, who is a member of the county’s Technical Rescue Team. “Besides the incident in 2014, we train on this ride two or three times a year,” McCoy said. “It's important to know the best way to remove riders who might be on a 45 degree angle or even upside down. That's what we train for.”
Brady said once the ladders were in place, it was just a matter of taking their time and being safe.
“It took about 15 or 20 minutes to position the tower ladders, but once they were set up we were able to remove two or three riders at a time with ages ranging from six to 45-years-old,” Brady said. “By 9:30 all 24 riders had been removed safely.”
According to Six Flags’ website, the ride was introduced in 1999. It accelerates from 0 to 60 miles-per-hour in about three seconds. Constructed in a “spaghetti bowl” design, the ride takes one minute and 15 seconds to complete.
Six Flags issued a statement Thursday evening.
“Joker’s Jinx did not complete its regular ride cycle, causing it to stop at a safe location on the track. The safety of our guests is our highest priority and the ride will be closed for a thorough inspection before re-opening.”