Riders trapped high in the air when power fails on State Fair ride

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by JOSH DAVIS, REBECCA LOPEZ, WALT ZWIRKO and MARCUS MOORE

WFAA

Posted on October 20, 2012 at 12:56 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 20 at 12:56 PM

DALLAS -- The Stratosphere ride at the State Fair of Texas is supposed to give riders thrills and a spectacular aerial view of the Midway, but two dozen passengers got a much longer look than they anticipated Friday night when the power failed on the ride while they were high in the air.

The riders finally got back on the ground just at 11:20 p.m. after dangling over the Fair for  two-and-a-half hours,

"There were some tears and hugs, and we're all so thankful that they're down safe," said State Fair spokeswoman Sue Gooding. "The ride will not reopen during the Fair; we'll do everything we can to work with officials to find out what happened."

Dallas Fire-Rescue responded to help the trapped riders. One firefighter climbed all the way to the top of the ride, which is approximately 200 feet high, to keep them calm during the ordeal.

Twenty-four people were on board The Stratosphere and State Fair staff had to manually lower the tower to get them down. Dallas police had phone contact with the riders, and no injuries were reported.

All around the ride, the State Fair Midway continued to buzz as the rescue operration was under way.

Less than 50 yards away, the Air Raid ride was spinning riders in a dizzying pattern, most of them likely oblivious to the drama next door.

But scores of other fair patrons munched on corny dogs and turkey legs as they craned their necks skyward, snapping photos of the only attraction that wasn't bathed in flashing neon lights... and the two dozen people dangling their legs impatiently far above.

At 10:52 p.m., police moved the crowds back about 50 feet and closed rides and booths immediately adjacent to The Stratosphere.

At 11:01 p.m., polka music blared from the Bubble House fun house as police moved patrons even further away from the disabled sky ride, erecting aluminum barriers to keep the Midway clear for emergency vehicles.

Around 11:15 p.m., the ride final began coming down as police moved civilians even further away and told the crowd to go home.

Sky Attractions, the company that made The Stratosphere, bills the ride as the "tallest portable swing in the world."

The Stratosphere ride had multiple malfunctioning problems at Minnesota and Wisconsin fairs earlier this summer, according to reports from WCCO.

A Dallas police source tells News 8 this is the second time this has happened on the ride this week. The source told us the last time, riders were not stranded long.

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