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24 Rescued After Six Flags Roller Coaster Gets Stuck

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Ritchie Rochelle 175x131 L Rochelle Ritchie
Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WJZ) — Terrifying ride. Passengers on board a roller coaster were trapped for hours after the ride got stuck nearly 100-feet in the air. Now they describe the agonizing rescue.

Rochelle Ritchie spoke with two riders trapped at the top.

Seventeen adults and seven children were on the ride. There’s still no word on what caused it to stall.

In just three seconds, riders on board the Joker’s Jinx roller coaster at Six Flags were catapulted into a thrill of twists and turns. But that thrill turned to terror for two men and 22 other passengers, who got stuck on the ride almost 100-feet in the air.

“It went through a few turns and then it really stopped abruptly. It was like, ‘Bam!'” said Matt Lepke, passenger.

Matt Lepke and his cousin, Frank Casey, were sitting about three cars back when the ride came to a sudden stop.

“Felt like you got hit from behind. I’ve got hit from behind by a semi before, but I have never been rammed like that at all,” Lepke said.

Panic immediately set in.

“He was screaming and screaming. I had to try and calm him down. It was crazy,” said Casey.

It wasn’t long before rescuers with the Prince George’s County Fire Department arrived. The sun and heat took a toll on the trapped passengers, who were given umbrellas, water and sunblock to keep them as healthy as possible during the rescue.

“It takes a long time to actually bring people down. And it’s very technical and complicated getting them out of there using ropes and ladders and everything else. It’s what we train for,” said Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor.

Officials with Six Flags declined to comment on camera, but released this statement, saying: “The ride has a sophisticated, computerized safety system that can cause such ride stoppages. While we are not yet sure what caused the stoppage, the ride performed as it is designed to.”

It took almost six hours to get everyone down from what was supposed to be a minute and a half ride. It was a scary ordeal, but not enough to keep Lepke and Casey from giving it another round.

“We’re roller coaster enthusiasts, so we’re not going to let that stop us,” Lepke said.

All 24 passengers underwent a medical evaluation before being sent home.

No one was injured during the ordeal.

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