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Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Busch Gardens still investigating coaster glitch

Busch Gardens says its Cheetah Hunt roller coater will remain closed while engineers take a close look at why the ride malfunctioned Wednesday afternoon, forcing the rescue of 16 people from a car stuck 60 feet in the air.

The park had anticipated reopening the ride when gates open at 10 a.m. today but decided to wait, spokesman Travis Claytor said this morning. An engineer from the coaster's manufacturer, Intamin Amusement Rides, was already at the park on another assignment and will work with Busch Gardens expert on the issue, Claytor said.

“We decided to take a closer look,” Claytor said.

A computer system automatically shuts down the ride if it recognizes a problem, but the park said no problems were apparent before the ride was launched. Claytor said the engineers will look closely at the area of the track where the stoppage occurred.

The coaster will remain closed until the problem is solved, Claytor said.

Emergency personnel were called to the park about 4 p.m. Wednesday after the ride stopped with cars at a 30 degree angle, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.

It took about an hour to free the riders from harnesses and lower them to the ground in a ladder basket. No injuries were reported.

Busch Gardens officials said the weather was clear when the ride launched about 2:30 p.m., but a major storm moved through the region before the rescue was complete, with lightning as close as 3 miles away, a Fire Rescue spokesman said.

The riders were provided with ponchos, snacks, drinks, jackets and umbrellas after being freed.

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