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Faulty wheel bearing blamed for Western Playland ride mishap

UPDATE, July 26: The owner of Western Playland amusement park on Monday said a faulty wheel bearing on a roller coaster car was likely responsible for the malfunction of the 'El Bandido' ride over the weekend that stranded eight teenagers.

The teens had to be rescued Saturday night by Sunland Park and West Valley firefighters from the 30-year-old ride.

Owner Patrick Thomson defended the decision to put the roller coaster back in service a day after the mishap, saying the two cars suspected of wheel problems were removed and the ride passed inspection tests and checks.

UPDATE, July 25: A roller coaster at Western Playland was back in operation Sunday, just hours after it malfunctioned, requiring firefighters to rescue eight teenagers who were stuck on the ride.

Patrick Thomson, who owns the 30-acre amusement park located in Sunland Park, said the cause of Saturday night's mishap remained unclear. An inspection failed to turn up any problems with the ride.

Thomson told ABC-7 that the roller coaster was up and running again Sunday, but without the two cars that became stuck on the top of the ride - about 60 feet up - with the teens in their seats. He indicated the ride would undergo a closer evaluation on Monday.

Fire officials on Sunday recounted that it took rescue crews about two hours to safely free all eight of the trapped teens on the ride.

West Valley Fire Chief Bill Adler told ABC-7 it took a couple of hours to complete Saturday night's rescue effort because they had to "take each kid down one-by-one" utilizing an aerial ladder truck.

ORIGINAL REPORT, July 24: SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico -- Firefighters were in the process Saturday night of rescuing seven teenagers who were stuck on the roller coaster's inner circle at Western Playland.

Sunland Park and West Valley firefighters responded to the amusement park about 8:30 p.m.

Fire officials said there were no injuries reported and a tactical team was working to get all the teenagers down from the stuck roller coaster car.

Firefighters were utilizing an aerial ladder with a bucket and harness to carry out the rescues.

There was no word on what caused the amusement ride to get stuck.

Article Topic Follows: New Mexico

Jim Parker

Jim Parker is the Director of Digital Content for ABC-7.

Rachel Phillips


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