Several riders on the "Cheetah Hunt" roller coaster at Busch Gardens are now safe following some scary moments when they were stuck on it late Wednesday afternoon.
The car was full with 16 passengers on board, and was 60 feet above the ground when it came to a stop.
One woman who had just ridden the roller coaster spoke with us about what she saw.
"We rode the ride, got off and the next thing you know it was the ride right after us, we don't know what happened, it was just stopped right there," said Debra Jacques. "It's very nerve-wracking, very scary."
According to a spokesperson with Tampa Fire Rescue, Busch Gardens sent a cherry picker in to begin the rescue process, safely removing one person on board. Firefighters arrived shortly afterward.
"They were at an angle, probably 30 degrees, so just unbuckling them raised some anxiety for both the passengers and for our people," said Chief Emilio Salabarria, who explained how firefighters then safely rescued the remaining 15 passengers. "We were able to put some nice harnesses on them before we moved them and got them into the buckets, and them lower them down to the ground."
Salabarria said the ordeal unfolded during the peak of a thunderstorm, making for some tense moments. The rescue took a little more than an hour.
One witness, meanwhile, wasn't thrilled with the park's response.
"I saw a mom waiting for her son. You could see the boy in the front row scared to death and they wouldn't let her go near him," Jacques said. "I just don't think I would go on the ride. I don't even know if I'd go back over there."
No one at Busch Gardens has said what went wrong. Our calls to the park's spokesperson were not returned.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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