Terrified families trapped after rollercoaster stopped in mid air at popular theme park

The closed gates of the Southport Pleasureland closed tourist attraction, are pictured in Southport, north west England, on April 26, 2020, as life in Britain continues during the nationwide lockdown to combat the novel coronavirus. - Britain's health ministry on Saturday April 25, said 813 more people had died after testing positive for COVID-19 in hospital, taking the death toll to 20,319. The figure is an increase on the 684 reported the previous day and comes after the government claimed the virus had hit its peak. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Emergency services were called to Southport Pleasureland after a rollercoaster broke, trapping 19 people on board. (Stock image: Getty) (PAUL ELLIS via Getty Images)

Parents and terrified children were stuck suspended 20ft in the air "for at least 90 minutes" when a rollercoaster broke at a popular theme park, according to claims from one witness.

Images of the scene at Pleasureland in Southport, Merseyside, show families left dangling from the Rocket Coaster when it stopped on the tracks on Saturday (27 August), leaving 19 people trapped.

One person suffered a head injury as a result of the ride stopping abruptly, the fire service said, but they and the other 18 were all helped off the ride by staff from Pleasureland using a cherry picker.

Michael Bowman, 57, who had travelled with his wife Christine, 35, and eight-year-old son from Stoke-on-Trent watched as people were helped off the ride.

He told the Mirror one young girl had passed out and her father was trying to climb over a barrier to get to her.

Pleasureland Amusement Park, Southport, Merseyside, 2015. Artist Historic England. (Photo by Historic England Archive/Heritage Images via Getty Images)
Staff at Pleasureland used a cherry picker to help people off the broken ride. (Stock image: Getty) (Heritage Images via Getty Images)

Bowman told the newspaper: "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."

Read more: Huge bronze statue of comedian Bobby Ball unveiled in his adopted hometown

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service confirmed it attended an incident at Southport Pleasureland on Saturday.

A statement said: "On arrival, crews were met with 19 members of the public mechanically trapped on a ride. One member of the public sustained a head injury as a result of the ride stopping abruptly.

"This individuals welfare was prioritised and staff at Southport Pleasureland utilised a cherry picker to safely remove all members of the public from the ride.

"North West Ambulance Service were also in attendance, paramedics assessed and treated the casualty at scene, who was unconscious but breathing before conveying the individual to hospital.

"Other members of the public were given precautionary checks at scene by paramedics."

Firemen equipment on fire truck,Fire engine with equipment stay in the fire department.
The fire service was called but the theme park had already got everyone down from the ride. (Stock image: Getty) (Visoot Uthairam via Getty Images)

It said a multi-agency meeting took place involving emergency services and the Health and Safety Executive, and the ride was isolated, with a full inspection due to be carried out.

Bowman claimed the passengers had been stuck at least 20ft in the air for an hour-and-a-half and also claimed that two other rides had suffered technical issues, prompting him to leave the theme park amid concerns over its safety.

In a statement provided to the Mirror, Pleasureland apologised for the distress caused to passengers stuck on the ride and said a thorough investigation had been launched into what had happened.

A spokesperson said: "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.

"A young girl who had lost consciousness was the team’s priority, and immediately 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."